Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Coping in parents of autistic children has been studied extensively with emphasis on the effect oflong-term disability on families. The increase in the prevalence of autism in the United States increases the likelihood that many families will be managed by midlevel providers including advanced practice nurses (APNs). Parents and siblings of children with ASDs suffer from more stress and mental health issues than families with typically developing children or other disabilities such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. The purpose of this independent study was to review the literature and practice guidelines examinjng coping in parents of autistic children in order to identify risks and strategies employed by parents in dealing with the challenges of raising a child with ASDs. The sampled articles used in this study were purposely selected based on their examination of the various aspects of stress and coping in parents of children with ASDs. Results showed that parents used a variety of coping strategies and appeared to learn better coping strategies as their children grew older and they adapted better to their children's routine. Parents with low levels of social support and parents who had children with more severe symptoms had more difficulty in coping. Mothers were more likely than fathers to seek social support and other resources. Social support, support groups and other positive coping strategies such as refran1ing were used by autistic families. The goal of this capstone project was to design a brochure for APNs. APNs are in a unique position to help identify risks, educate affected families, provide timely services, and make appropriate referrals.