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A comparative study of the marital relationship between parents with children with autism and those with children without autism

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Caitlin Walsh is a Clinical Psychology student and K Daniel O'Leary is a Professor at Stony Brook University, New York. In this paper, they report on a large-scale study which explored the nature of the marital relationship for 475 mothers of children with autism and 62 mothers of typically developing children. As they state, there are often increased demands and stresses on parents of children with a disability and some evidence to suggest that parents of children with autism experience even more stress than those with other types of special need. It is likely therefore that the relationship between the parents is also affected. The authors do in fact find that there are generally more difficulties in the marital relationship of those parents with a child with autism, but that most of these parents stay married and also report that the experience has strengthened their relationships in some cases and they have experienced positive emotions as well as having difficult times. The authors end by recommending that professionals take more account of the effect of autism on the whole family and to consider the extent to which the services they offer add to the stresses within the family or reduce these.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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  • Good Autism Practice is dedicated solely to promoting good practice with children and adults with autism and Asperger's syndrome.
    Each journal includes articles:
    • encouraging good and innovative practice
    • written by practitioners, academics, parents and people with autism
    The journal is edited by highly respected academics and practitioners specialising in autistic spectrum conditions and will be of interest to parents and practitioners in health, education and social services, as well as people who have autistic spectrum conditions.
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