Coping Strategies of Parents Whose Children Have Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Qualitative Study

Dr. Konabe Bene, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology at Prince Sultan University
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sanpalei Lyngdoh, MA
Doctoral Candidate in Special Education at Texas Tech University 
Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership

Angelina Lapina, MA
Doctoral Student of Adult Education
Texas State University, San Marcos, TX
Department of Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education & School Psychology


A plethora of research indicates that parents whose children have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience high parental stress associated with a variety of behavioral and cognitive autism-related symptoms. Given the difficult and stressful situations in which parents find themselves when managing and dealing with their children's autism-related symptoms, research has shown that parents are more likely to develop coping strategies in the face of parental stressors. However, empirical evidence that shows in-depth and rich narratives of parental personal coping strategies which they may develop to cope with their children's diagnosis effectively has fallen short. This issue of NASET’s Autism Spectrum Disorder series adds to the existing research on the types of parental coping strategies, which parents developed from the moment they learned that their child has ASD to seeking assistance and help. In this study, six parents whose children have been diagnosed with ASD were interviewed about their experiences that reveal the processes of developing personal coping strategies as well as the types of the developed coping strategies. A theme-based analysis revealed that parents developed diagnosis-related coping to overcome suspicion, personality and emotional coping, action-oriented coping, coping through beliefs and values, coping through self-directed learning about ASD, through self-care and spirituality, and finally, through avoidance coping. In the final sections, implications of the findings and future directions for research are discussed. (Reis, Pereira, & Almeida, 2018).

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