Preparation of this article was supported by a National Institute of Mental Health Training Grant (T32-MH16806). We thank Chris Davis for his comments on an earlier draft.
“Why My Child?”: Parental Attributions for Children's Special Needs1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 29, Issue 6, pages 1263–1291, June 1999
How to Cite
Mickelson, K. D., Wroble, M. and Helgeson, V. S. (1999), “Why My Child?”: Parental Attributions for Children's Special Needs. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29: 1263–1291. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1999.tb02039.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Although research exists on how attributions for traumatic life events are related to adjustment, little has focused on parents’ attributions for their children's special needs. Parents were interviewed twice over 1 year about their attributions for their children's special needs. We used parents’ open-ended responses during the initial interview to construct a ratings survey for the second interview. Parents of children with Down's syndrome made attributions to genetic fluke, age, and fate/God's will; parents of autistic children made attributions to heredity and environment; parents of developmentally delayed children made attributions to medical problems and stress during pregnancy. Self-blame attributions and attributions to the environment were related to worse adjustment, whereas attributions to fate/God's will were related to better adjustment. Implications for family interventions and physicians are discussed.