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Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica

Print version ISSN 0102-7972On-line version ISSN 1678-7153


SCHMIDT, Carlo; DELL'AGLIO, Débora Dalbosco  and  BOSA, Cleonice Alves. Coping strategies of mothers of autistic children: dealing with behavioral problems and emotions. Psicol. Reflex. Crit. [online]. 2007, vol.20, n.1, pp.124-131. ISSN 0102-7972.

Many studies have shown evidence of high levels of stress in families with autistic children. Concerning this process, it is important to consider the coping strategies used by family members in face of the adverse circumstances. The purpose of this study is to investigate the coping strategies of mothers when dealing with their autistic children, as well as how they deal with their own emotions unleashed by the stress. Thirty mothers, between 30 and 56 years old participated in the study. Their children have met the criteria for autism and attended special education schools. The coping strategies were investigated using a semi-structured interview, which was transcribed and analyzed by content analysis. The main difficulties refer to the child's behavior. In relation to these difficulties, the strategy used by the mothers was predominantly direct action and acceptance. Concerning the strategies to deal with their own emotions, the most frequent categories were distraction, reaching out for social/religious support, lack of action and avoidance. Results are discussed in terms of stress and maternal adaptation model.

Keywords : Autism; maternal stress; coping strategies.

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