Science has made strides in describing the neurobiological and genetic bases for autism, but its etiology remains poorly understood. Literature reveals that when families face an autism diagnosis they speculate reasons for its cause, many of which are consistent – and others not consistent – with current scientific understanding. Beliefs affect families’ emotional responses and behaviors related to helping their children. This pilot study involved the development of a survey instrument based on a sample of fifteen “causal” beliefs for autism reported in a review of the literature, and five hundred and eighty-nine adults indicated their agreement with each. Factor analysis reduced beliefs to four categories, thought to represent Parenting, Genetics, Supernatural and Medical/Chemical causes. Multiple regression analyses suggest that demographic characteristics, including education level and race, predicted endorsement of beliefs. The most common is “Genetics” but additional explanations are also involved to a lesser degree. Given the prevalence of autism worldwide, this pilot study established an approach for gauging the range of lay explanations for its cause, and addressed the potential emotional and behavioral consequences of beliefs.
Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities – Springer Journals
Published: May 28, 2018
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