PARENTS’ ATTITUDES TOWARDS CHILDREN WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER. THEIR AWARENESS AND IMPACT ON CHILD DEVELOPMENT. PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF RESEARCH RESULTS

E. Tokarewicz1, S. Nazaruk1, A. Klim-Klimaszewska2

1Pope John Paul II State School of Higher Education in Biala Podlaska (POLAND)
2University of Natural Sciences and Humanities in Siedlce (POLAND)
The quantity and quality of information pertaining to Autism Spectrum Disorder has been on the increase over the past years, not only in the media but also in other sectors, especially in the scientific, non-governmental and educational ones. On the one hand, this information pertains to the essence of autism as a disease, its etiology, symptoms and treatment. On the other hand, it relates to the subject itself, namely children and adolescents with autism. There are more and more scientific publications and guides addressed to parents raising autistic children, teachers and therapists. Moreover, better cooperation at the institutional and individual level can be observed. In spite of the positive changes regarding public perception of ASD and the dissemination of knowledge on that topic, there is much more to be done in this respect. Therefore, the article is designed not only to describe the theoretical aspect of the disease but also the practical one by showing how an autistic child functions in the family.

Raising a child with autism involves an increase in the number of parental responsibilities, or even leads to a change in parents’ plans for their lives, which undoubtedly affects their attitude towards a child, relationships between spouses, and their physical and mental health. Identifying parental attitudes towards a child is very important because these attitudes shape not only the future development but also personality of a child. Therefore, the purpose of the research was to recognize parental attitudes of mothers and fathers towards their autistic children. The study was performed at the ‘Common World’ Association in Biala Podlaska, Poland. It is a non-governmental organization which assists parents raising children with autism, provides advisory, educational and therapeutic services. In 2017 the organization has 300 members. The major problem of the study was formulated in the form of the following question: ‘What kind of attitudes do parents adopt towards their autistic children?’. Furthermore, the research was designed to recognize the differences in the attitudes of mothers and fathers towards their children, to indicate corrective actions if undesirable attitudes were identified, and to put research results into practice.

By reason of the research subject, a standardized and recognized in Poland research tool for diagnosing parental attitudes toward their autistic children was used. The research findings revealed that some parents were diagnosed with attitudes which were not desirable in the process of childrearing, which in turn may have a negative influence on the upbringing and the development of a child. Relevant research results were made available to the parents participating in the study in order to help them take corrective actions because the best interest of a child should be a priority for its parents.