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09-03-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 6/2017

Childhood Schizophrenia and Autism: An Empirical Study of Perceived Social Support

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 6/2017
Adrienne R. Allen, Anne E. Pidano


Although there is an abundance of literature focusing on social support for children and adults with mental illness, there is a paucity of research examining social support for individuals diagnosed with childhood and adolescent onset schizophrenia. Literature suggests that measuring social support in youth with schizophrenia poses unique challenges, which may be why it is so under-represented in existing research. In an effort to learn more about the availability of social support for children in this population, the current study compared measures of social support for children and adolescents, 5 to 17 years old, diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia to those for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The study surveyed parents of children with schizophrenia and autism using the Family Needs Questionnaire to measure perceived social support, and a subsection of the Ohio Youth Problem, Functioning, and Satisfaction Scales to measure the parent’s assessment of children’s level of functioning. A Family Questionnaire was also administered to collect demographic information about the children and their families. Results indicated, contrary to the original hypothesis, that parents of children with schizophrenia perceived their offspring as having more social support than children with autism, even though overall parents of children in the schizophrenia group rated their children as having a lower level of functioning. However, the study also found that when assessing the importance of social support needs, parents of children with schizophrenia rated their children’s needs as being significantly more important than parents of children with autism. A discussion of the research findings and limitations of the study are offered, in addition to suggestions for future research.

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