• Resilience Intervention for Families of Autistic Children: Reviewing the Literature

      Kotera, Yasuhiro; Pope, Melanie; Chircop, James; Kirkman, Ann; Bennett-Viliardos, Laura; Sharaan, Shereen; University of Derby; University of Edinburgh (Concurrent Disorders Society Publishing, 2021-05-24)
      Given the rising diagnostic rates of autism, it is imperative to investigate the well-being of families with autistic children. Families of autistic children report more mental health difficulties than families of typically developing children. Resilience is identified as a key protective factor for mental health difficulties in many populations, and research suggests that this construct is effective for coping with mental health difficulties in families of autistic children. However, reviews on resilience interventions for families of autistic children are lacking. Accordingly, this paper aims to report (a) common mental health difficulties that families of autistic children experience, (b) how resilience may reduce mental health difficulties, (c) interventions to enhance resilience in families of autistic children, and (d) discuss implications for practice and future research. Our review identified that mental distress resulting from feelings of uncertainty and helplessness following a diagnosis, in addition to caregiving stressors, is especially common among families of autistic children. Enhancing resilience is suggested to reduce those difficulties by tapping into strengths related to various positive psychological resources such as internal locus of control, positive cognitive appraisal, acceptance and self-efficacy. Interventions such as Dance Movement Psychotherapy and spirituality-based approaches, are deemed especially helpful to families of autistic children. However, research in this area is still under-developed, and there is a pressing need to build a more rigorous evidence base. Findings reviewed in the current work can aid families of autistic children, healthcare practitioners, and researchers to support the mental wellbeing of families of autistic children, which in turn would support the wellbeing of autistic children.