Families with autistic children

TitleFamilies with autistic children
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsDi Nuovo S, Azzara G
JournalInterdisciplinary Journal of Family Studies
Date Published12/2011
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2282-2011
KeywordsADS, autism, Faces IV, family system, intellectual disability

The specific aspects of autistic persons’ communication and interaction require responses based on the parents’ personal capacities for coping, but also on the characteristics of the family system. The aims of the study were to analyze the relations between the perceptions of the parental couple about the styles of functioning of the family, and the competencies of their autistic children. It was hypothesized that the presence or absence of Intellectual Disability comorbid with the autism could influence these relations. Participants were 20 children, 85% males, age range 4-7 years, with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, 50% with Intellectual Disability, and both their parents. PEP3 to assess the performances of autistic persons, and FACES-IV to assess family functioning were used as instruments. The results demonstrated that cohesion, communication and satisfaction in the family system are higher when Intellectual Disability is not associated with autism. Higher cognitive skills in the child are associated with cohesion and flexibility, and with the communication level of the family system, while deficits in expressive and receptive language and affective expression are linked with the unbalanced dimensions of family functioning. Less maladaptive behaviors in the children were found in balanced types of families. The inverse correlation between child’s visual-motor imitation and family cohesion may be attributed to the difficulty of the autistic person to articulate and detect appropriately the cues for an effective imitation in a highly cohesive system. The need of longitudinal studies to explain better causes and effects in these relations is underlined.