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Coping Strategies of Fathers with Autistic Children

Jonathan Lloyd is a qualified counsellor and hypnotherapist running a successful therapy centre in Bramhall Cheshire. He is also the father of three children one of whom, his youngest son is autistic.

As part of Jonathan’s recent Master’s studies at Manchester University, he wrote a 30,000 word research paper about the coping strategies of fathers with autistic children. As well as reviewing all the available but limited published information on the experiences of fathers with autistic children a series of seven comprehensive case studies was undertaken to provide rich qualitative data.

The study has revealed a commonality of experiences between the fathers with increased stress levels as a result of extreme behaviours, problems of initial diagnosis and supportive education and in three cases problem pregnancy / birth. But the study also reported surprising personal development and life enhancement amongst the fathers.

In his qualitative research involving the stories of seven men all with autistic sons Jonathan identified 26 coping strategies. He was able to table the findings in an A to Z format and expands on each one in the study using empirical evidence.

Acceptance
Denial
Goals
Join
Marriage
Pets
Support
Vacations
Yes You Can Attitude
Belief Systems
Experts
Humour
Keep Fit
Normalizing
Quiet Environment
Therapy
Work
Charity
Friends and Family
Impersonate
Liquor
Open
Research
Unconditional Love
X Roads - respite
ZZZZ - sleep

Interestingly, fathers were able to adopt a number of emotionally based coping strategies such as acceptance, open and unconditional love alongside more traditional ‘male problem-solving’ methods such as work, liquor and vacations.

The findings of the report will be of particular interest to fathers of newly diagnosed autistic children and to the professional and familial support group around them. Understanding the journey of those who have gone down this road before can provide both hope and inspiration for the future.

Copies of the full report as a PDF file can be obtained by emailing Jonathan at jonathan@calmminds.com.

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