A comparison of the attitudes of parents whose children are diagnosed with autism and of parents whose children are diagnosed with mental retardation

Mark Horren Yeager


The general purpose of the study was to examine the accepting attitudes of parents of children with autism as they compare to those attitudes of parents of children with mental retardation. The study was conducted at various locations within the state of Mississippi. The parents in both groups have children in the regional center programs of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health or are associated with parent networks. The settings for these groups included only children who live at home and are enrolled in early intervention programs, diagnostic proceedings with the regional center diagnostic and evaluation teams or other associated parent networks. The study was conducted over a period of two months via United States mail through the various programs which are located throughout the state of Mississippi. The ultimate goal was to provide information to professionals who provide services to the parents and children described in the study. This information can be used to guide their therapy and intervention designs to facilitate a better program for the child and family. Eight hypotheses were tested at an.01 alpha level of significance. A Manova was used to test the first seven hypotheses and a multiple regression was used to test the final hypothesis. Results of the administration of the instrument and demographic data information indicated no significant difference in the attitudes between the two groups. The small sample size was a significant limitation of this research. The 13 demographic variables presented too many variables for such a small sample size, which posed a major statistical handicap. Individually, no single demographic variable contributed significantly to the explained variance.