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Caregiver burden and relationship satisfaction in ASD-NT intimate relationships
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 03:42 authored by Naomi Millar-Powell
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder featuring difficulties with socio-emotional reciprocity, communication, and repetitive patterns of behaviour, as well as narrowed interests that hinder daily functioning (APA, 2013). However, the symptoms of ASD vary among individuals. Therefore, some people are unable to live independent lives (Hofvandet et al., 2009), while others are able to live independently and develop intimate relationships with others. These couplings, referred to as ASD-Neurotypical (NT) relationships, were the focus of this study. Adopting a mixed methods approach, quantitative and qualitative data regarding relationship satisfaction, positive communication patterns, and social support was collected across both groups (i.e., ASD, N=12, and NT, N=60). Caregiver burden was assessed among NT partners. The findings suggest that relationship satisfaction and perceptions of positive communications are lower among NT partners than those with ASD. Further, caregiver burden was comparatively high and negatively related to relationship satisfaction. Finally, a moderating pattern related to social support was suggested by the quantitative and supported by the qualitative findings. A framework informed by the a priori research questions was imposed on the qualitative data. The themes identified are as follows: caregiving, receiving care, social support and communication, as well as disconnection, grief and sorrow.