Handling the Psychological Distress of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Feasibility of Group Work Approach


  • Seema P Uthaman Department of Psychiatry, Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Thrissur, Kerala.
  • V Indiramma Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS, Bangalore, Karnataka.
  • Shoba Srinath Department of Psychiatry, NIMHANS, Bangalore, Karnataka


autism, parent intervention module, psychological distress, group work


Autism Spectrum Disorders are pervasive developmental disorders affecting many children today. Parenting a child with special needs, such as children with autism, is very taxing, as they need intensive and life-long intervention in diverse areas. This paper is an attempt to assess the need of those parents of children with autism and to develop an intervention programme to take care of the psychosocial issues. The study had two phases. In the first phase 120 parents of children with autism spectrum disorders were interviewed using a semi structured interview schedule and GHQ 28. In the second phase, an intervention module was prepared and implemented with 20 parents. The results show that the mean psychological distress was significantly higher for mothers compared to fathers. The scores on subscales show that mothers have higher level of somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction and depression compared to fathers. The pre and post analysis of the group intervention shows that there is a drop in the level of distress and increase in the awareness on child’s illness in parents after the group intervention. The findings show that addressing parental needs in a group setting can be very effective and beneficial in helping parents reduce their distress levels and hence making them better equipped to look after their child with a disability like autism.

Author Biographies

Seema P Uthaman, Department of Psychiatry, Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Thrissur, Kerala.

Department of Psychiatry, Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Thrissur, Kerala.

V Indiramma, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS, Bangalore, Karnataka.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS, Bangalore, Karnataka.


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