Perceptions of parent and child attachment in parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Sabrina Jill Goodman, Fordham University

Abstract

This study aimed to gain a better understanding of the attachment-related perceptions and experiences of parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Within the extensive attachment literature, most research has focused on children's attachment to their parent(s), while relatively little research has examined parents' attachment to their child. In addition, research typically has focused on the behavioral, rather than the affective, component of attachment. The current study investigated the understudied parental side of the attachment relationship between parent and child, including the neglected affective component of attachment.^ This study focused on two facets of attachment: parents' perceptions of their child's attachment to them and parents' affective attachment to their child. Potential correlates of these components of attachment also were examined, including parenting stress, parent-rated child functional impairment, and parenting sense of competence. Limited previous research has examined parents' perceptions of their child's attachment to them in parents of children with ASDs, and this study was the first to investigate their affective attachment to their child. ^ Seventy-six mothers and 30 fathers of children (ages 2 to 10) with ASDs completed seven measures including the Maternal Perception of Child Attachment scale, the Postnatal Attachment Questionnaire, the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form, the Childhood Autism Rating Scale-Parent Version, the Parenting Sense of Competence Scale, the Paulhus Deception Scales, and an information form. The results showed that, overall, parents' perceptions of their affective attachment to their child are more consistently related to other aspects of their parenting experiences (e.g., parenting stress and parenting sense of competence) than are their perceptions of their child's attachment to them. Also, perceptions of child attachment appear to be related to other aspects of parenting for fathers more than for mothers. In general, the regression analyses reflected that parents' affective attachment and their perceptions of their child's level of functional impairment are better predictors of their levels of parenting stress and parenting competence than are their perceptions of their child's attachment to them. The study findings have implications for clinical work with families of children with ASDs, including tailoring interventions to the potentially unique needs mothers and fathers. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Sabrina Jill Goodman, "Perceptions of parent and child attachment in parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders" (January 1, 2010). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3438474.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3438474

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