Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Experiences of Stress, Coping and Perceived Need for Counselling Services
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Parents of children with developmental disorders, and Autism Spectrum Disorders in particular, are recognized as coping with elevated parenting demands and are at higher risk of stress, depression and family distress. This study investigated the experiences of stress and coping strategies of 15 parents of children with ASDs using the Family Stress and Coping Inventory questionnaire. A second questionnaire was used to investigate parents‟ experiences of professional family centred helpgiving services and parents‟ perceived need for counselling services. Results of the present investigation indicate that these families are experiencing moderate to high levels of stress despite utilizing a variety of coping strategies. Stress factors remain fairly consistent although some individual stress variables are identified as being more prevalent at different child ages. Parents recognized little or no professional family centred helpgiving practices and further acknowledged a perceived need for counselling services for self, intimate relationship and child centred practice. Currently therapeutic treatments for ASDs are often not funded by health ministries in Canada. The Autism Funding Program in British Columbia is identified by the researcher as possibly being a systemic barrier to access of services and supports experienced by these parents and families. Further research into the experiences of families of children with ASDs is recommended.