Parent-Reported Strengths in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Time of an Interdisciplinary Diagnostic Evaluation

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Abstract

Objective:

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often focus on concerns in discussions with health care providers. However, studying child strengths and positive parental attributions is an emerging area of focus and not often highlighted in many studies with children with ASD. The objective of this study was to identify parent-reported strengths in a sample of children with ASD.

Methods:

This was a qualitative study of parent report of strengths in clinical notes with children between the ages 3 and 8 presenting for a team diagnostic evaluation and meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-IV-Text Revision (TR) or DSM-V diagnostic criteria for ASD. The reported child's strengths were qualitatively analyzed, coded, and clustered into themes.

Results:

Ninety-eight charts were reviewed. Five meta-themes of strengths were identified: Personality Characteristics, Social Personality, Cognitive Functioning, Behavioral Characteristics/Coping Mechanisms, and Skills. On average, parents reported more strengths in the Cognitive Functioning and Personality Characteristics meta-themes.

Conclusion:

Pediatricians have a unique opportunity to discuss parental positive perceptions of children with ASD and to learn about their strengths.

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