• autism;
  • disability;
  • family;
  • meaning;
  • resilience;
  • strength


Background  Family resilience is a growing field of inquiry, investigating factors that contribute to a family's becoming stronger in spite of dealing with adversity. Despite the growing interest in studying family resilience, the topic has not been explored in families with children who have disabilities. This report, a part of a larger study – using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies – is an examination of factors of family resilience in the families of children with autism. Evidence of family resilience such as family connectedness and closeness, positive meaning-making of the disability, and spiritual and personal growth were identified and examined in this part of the study.

Method  The study uses a survey methodology, analysing responses to several rating scales and written responses to three open-ended questions. Survey respondents consisted of 175 parents and other primary caregivers of a child with autism – ages between 2 and 18 years.

Results  Results suggest identification of specific resilience processes, such as: making positive meaning of disability, mobilization of resources, and becoming united and closer as a family; finding greater appreciation of life in general, and other people in specific; and gaining spiritual strength.

Conclusions  This study presents evidence that a considerable number of families of children with autism display factors of resilience – reporting having become stronger as a result of disability in the family.