Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 29 Issue 6 (June 1999), Pages 1111-1331

“Why My Child?”: Parental Attributions for Children's Special Needs (pages 1263-1291)

Although research exists on how attributions for traumatic life events are related to adjustment, little has focused on parents’ attributions for their children's special needs. Parents were interviewed twice over 1 year about their attributions for their children's special needs. We used parents’ open‐ended responses during the initial interview to construct a ratings survey for the second interview. Parents of children with Down's syndrome made attributions to genetic fluke, age, and fate/God's will; parents of autistic children made attributions to heredity and environment; parents of developmentally delayed children made attributions to medical problems and stress during pregnancy. Self‐blame attributions and attributions to the environment were related to worse adjustment, whereas attributions to fate/God's will were related to better adjustment. Implications for family interventions and physicians are discussed.

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