Prioritizing Problem-Solving Strategies in Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder; Initial Report from the SMART Initiative, Shiraz, Iran

Document Type : Original Articles


1 Shiraz Multidisciplinary Autism Research Team (SMART), the Autism Society of Iran, Fars Branch, Shiraz, Iran

2 USP-Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science, Universidade De São Paulo, São Carlos, SP, Brazil

3 Department of Neuroscience, School of Advanced Medical Sciences and Technologies, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences


The importance of education through interactive discussion-forums and seminars on family skills in coping with stress of having a child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) seems to be under-attended. This prompted a local initiative entitled SMART (Shiraz Multidisciplinary Autism Research Team), to document the personal impact of autism on a preliminary group of parents and identify the corre­lates of stress and emotional well-being of having a child with ASD. Seventeen parents (11 mothers and 6 fathers) from 17 families who had a child with ASD volunteered to take part in the study. Each partici­pant completed the general health questionnaire (GHQ-28). They were invited to an interactive forum during the ‘Brain Awareness Week-2016’, where they engaged in discussions and small-group activities to share and rank their top-ten challenges with regard to emotional well­-being and family functioning as well as rating their child’s autistic symptoms, including stereotyped behaviors. The practice was done through audience-response analysis and post-it note technique for individual counseling with interdisciplinary experts’ supervision.  Mothers had significantly higher scores than fathers on measures of stress and emotional well-being. Results identified that the poorer health was associated with more behavioral problems of the child. This narrow sample of Iranian parents showed to experience broadly similar responses to parents in other countries, which suggests that the impact of ASD may outweigh cultural disparities. Family counseling and education is planned to be strategized and attempted by SMART, based on the priority challenges documented in this sample group.


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