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Parent-Reported Strengths in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Time of an Interdisciplinary Diagnostic Evaluation

Sabapathy, Thusa MD; Madduri, Nirupama MD; Deavenport-Saman, Alexis DrPH, MCHES; Zamora, Irina PsyD; Schrager, Sheree M. PhD, MS; Vanderbilt, Douglas L. MD, MS

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: April 2017 - Volume 38 - Issue 3 - p 181–186
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000423
Original Articles
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Objective: Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often focus on concerns in discussions with health care providers. However, studying child strengths and positive parental attributions is an emerging area of focus and not often highlighted in many studies with children with ASD. The objective of this study was to identify parent-reported strengths in a sample of children with ASD.

Methods: This was a qualitative study of parent report of strengths in clinical notes with children between the ages 3 and 8 presenting for a team diagnostic evaluation and meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-IV-Text Revision (TR) or DSM-V diagnostic criteria for ASD. The reported child's strengths were qualitatively analyzed, coded, and clustered into themes.

Results: Ninety-eight charts were reviewed. Five meta-themes of strengths were identified: Personality Characteristics, Social Personality, Cognitive Functioning, Behavioral Characteristics/Coping Mechanisms, and Skills. On average, parents reported more strengths in the Cognitive Functioning and Personality Characteristics meta-themes.

Conclusion: Pediatricians have a unique opportunity to discuss parental positive perceptions of children with ASD and to learn about their strengths.

*Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, USC Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Sabapathy is now with the Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA. Dr. Madduri is now in private practice in Los Angeles;

Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA;

Division of Hospital Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, USC, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA.

Address for reprints: Douglas L. Vanderbilt, MD, MS, Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, 4650 Sunset Boulevard, Mailstop #76, Los Angeles, CA 90027; e-mail: dvanderbilt@chla.usc.edu.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received July 01, 2016

Accepted December 25, 2016

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.