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Ericka M. Lewis, Sarah Dababnah, Yao Wang, and Wendy Shaia Published in Autism

Title: The creator did not give me more than I can handle: Exploring coping in parents of Black autistic children.


Abstract: There is a paucity of studies that center on the lived experiences of Black families raising autistic children, and major gaps remain in our understanding of how parents of Black autistic children cope with stressors. Drawing from the Black family stress and coping model, this mixed-methods study explored coping strategies utilized by parents of Black autistic children. Twenty-two parents completed the Ways of Coping Questionnaire and participated in semi-structured interviews. Using grounded theory methods, we conducted data collection and analyses simultaneously until we did not identify new themes. Our quantitative and qualitative results were generally aligned. We found that parents used an array of coping strategies, at times combining different methods, to address complex stressors. Parents also expressed the need for more social support from providers, as well as a desire for inclusive spaces where they could engage with other parents whom they felt could better relate to the stressors they encountered. Study findings also suggest that kinship support, church involvement, and collective socialization are key protective factors in Black communities. Therefore, understanding the role culture plays in the use and effectiveness of coping strategies is essential to improving healthcare and other systems of care.



Lewis, E. M., Dababnah, S., Hollie, K. R., Kim, I., Wang, Y., & Shaia, W. E. (2022). The creator did not give me more than I can handle: Exploring coping in parents of Black autistic children. Autism. https://doi.org/10.1177/13623613211070865

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