The Reaction of Mothers and their Families to the Diagnosis of ASD

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There are significant differences in the way Latina mothers and White mothers react to their child’s ASD diagnose. A study conducted by Lopez, Magaña, Xu and Guzman (2018), explored the reaction of mothers and their families to the diagnosis of ASD by comparing open-ended responses of 44 Latina mothers and 52 White mothers. The results indicated that both sets of mothers had an equal emotional reaction to the diagnosis. The emotions range from guilt, depression, disbelief, devastation, loss and denial. But differed in the way they handle the aftermath. Latina mothers felt guilt and blame themselves for their children’s condition after their children were diagnose (Lopez, Magaña, Xu & Guzman, 2018). They reported wondering if they did something wrong during their pregnancy that resulted in their children having Autism. In contrast to Latino Mothers, White mothers reported feeling relieved after their children were diagnose and reassure about their parenting skills. Latina mothers expressed a sense of unfairness as their children were diagnosed, while, White mothers reported waiting for a diagnosis in order to move on and look for treatments and services. Latina mothers reported not knowing much about what autism is. They were not informed and lacked skills to advocate for services for their Children. In contrast, White mothers reported being well educated about the subject, capable of advocating and seeking the right services or treatment for their child. As for their families, both sets of mothers indicated that their families were emotionally distress with the diagnosis, feeling shock, in denial and saddened.

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Dividing child care responsibilities and paid employment amongst parents of a child or adolescent with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may be hard; yet many parents are faced with this difficult decision. Tension arises as the couple decides who will take on the child care responsibility for the child or adolescent with ASD and who will be responsible for the financial means.

A study conducted by Hartley, Mihaila, Otalora- Fadner and Bussanich (2014), found a pattern of role specialization among parents of children and adolescents with ASD. The fathers were more likely to spend significantly higher level of time in paid employment and the mothers spend significantly higher level of time in child care related to the child or adolescent with ASD. This pattern was more pronounced in families with children or adolescents with ASD, than in families of typically developing children and adolescents. Even though, role specialization has been shown to be related to high levels of parenting stress and other indices of poor psychological well- being in mothers in the general population and in mothers of young and grown children with other developmental disabilities; this was not the case for mothers of children and adolescents with ASD (Hartley et al. 2014). Mothers who were responsible to provided care for their child or adolescent with ASD, showed lower indices of stress and a moderate psychological well- being. On the other hand, fathers who spend larger amounts of time in paid employment experienced greater levels of work-related stress and were prone to spillover work-related stress into their parenting experiences. Both, mothers and fathers reported adjusting well to their role and marriage and mothers were satisfied with the time their spouse spent in child care.

Parents of children with ASD typically have higher levels of stress related to parenting as well as greater personal emotional distress compared to parents of typically developing children or parents of children with other developmental disabilities (Manning, Wainwright, Bennett 2011). A recent study found that couples who had a child with ASD were more likely to divorce than a matched comparison group of couples who had children without disabilities. Married couples with children with autism shared common perceptions about factors that help to keep their marriages strong: communication and shared foundational ideas about marriage.

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The Reaction of Mothers and their Families to the Diagnosis of ASD. (2019, Feb 14). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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