In this study, the researcher conducted a qualitative investigation regarding the impact that autism has on a family's social participation from the father's perspective. The researcher will explain how using the Person-Environment-Occupation model may both increase levels of social participation and increase the overall wellbeing and mental health of family's of autistic children.
The nature of Autism, a complex developmental disorder, remains largely elusive up to the present time. However, there have been myriad advances and discoveries regarding this condition (Rutter, 1999). Compared to other developmental disorders, Autism is being diagnosed at a rapid rate with an annual growth rate between 10 and 17% (Autism Society of America, 2007). This disorder has a prevalence rate in one out of every 150 births and affects approximately 1.5 million Americans (Autism Society of America, 2007). There is both a desire to treat the devastating effects of this disorder and a fascination to understand the nature of social interaction of patients with this condition. Large proportions of autistic patients exhibit differences in sensory processing and motor performance that may affect social participation and day-to-day functioning (Chawarska, Klin, Volkmar, & Powers, 2008, 104).
In their research, Domingue, Cutler, & McTarnaghan (2000) found that family members that care for autistic children have been shown to have greater difficulty in developing and sustaining vital social connections both at work and at home. Social activities such as dinners, weekend outings, and vacations are greatly reduced and marital difficulties often arise from the difficulty of effectively supporting their autistic child (Fisman, Wolf, & Noh, 1989).
In their 2005 study, Rodrigue, Morgan, and Geffken pointed out that fathers have been largely neglected in previous research of families with autistic children. They found that fathers of children with autism reported frequent use of both wish-fulfilling fantasy and information seeking as coping strategies. In addition to this, fathers with autistic children reported a greater financial impact and disruption of family activities when compared to fathers that did not have children with this disorder (Rodrigue, Morgan, and Geffken, 2005). While the researchers found that fathers adapt reasonably well to the needs of their autistic children, they also noted that autism had a significant impact on the family's social participation from the father's perspective (Rodrigue, Morgan, and Geffken, 2005).
Cost of Care
Numerous costs are involved in the treatment and care of autistic patients. When calculating the price of treatment, it is necessary to include direct medical, direct non-medical, and lost productivity costs. A complete treatment plan for an individual with autism may cost the public $3.2 million over the patient's lifetime (Moldin & Rubenstein, 2006, p. 476). In addition to this, the combined societal cost to treat all individuals with autism may amount to $35 billion over the pa