Sense making and benefit in couples who have a child with Asperger syndrome: An application of the Actor-Partner Independence Model
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Parents of children with Asperger syndrome face many challenges that may lead them to search for meaning by developing explanations for (sense making) and finding benefits (benefit finding) in having a child with special needs. Although family theorists have proposed that finding meaning occurs interpersonally, there is a dearth of empirical research that has examined finding meaning at the couple level. This study examined sense making and benefit finding in 84 couples who have a child with Asperger syndrome by using the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (Kenny et al., 2006) to examine actor effects (i.e. the extent to which an individual’s score on the predictor variable impacts his or her own level of adjustment) and partner effects (i.e. the extent to which an individual’s score on the predictor variable has an impact on his or her partner’s level of adjustment) of sense making and benefit finding on parental adjustment. Results demonstrated that parents’ benefit finding related to greater anxiety and parents’ sense making related to not only their own adjustment but also their partner’s adjustment. Results highlight the importance of adopting an interpersonal perspective on finding meaning and adjustment. Limitations, future research and clinical implications are also discussed.
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