Functioning of the Family System With an Autistic Child: A Comparative Study Between Poland and California, USA

Keywords: ASD, flexibility and communication in the family system, educational relationships, family-educational institutional relationships


Objectives of the research: The aims of this research are to conduct a comparison study between the level of communication and flexibility in families with autistic children in two different geographical locations and cultural contexts – California (USA) and Poland (Europe) – to address whether the level of these two dimensions of family functioning are related to the ego-resiliency of the parents, and additionally to discuss the practical implications that can be drawn from the results.

Research methods: Communication and flexibility profiles in family functioning were collected in Poland and California from September 2016 to February 2018. Data on the similarities and differences between parents of children with autism spectrum disorder in Poland (n=111) and California (n=105) was collected using Olson’s FACES-IV. The Ego-Resiliency Scale was also administered in methodologically standardized conditions and was empirically analyzed along with controlled demographic variables.

A short description of the context of the issue: Family functioning and ego-resiliency in families with children with autism are analyzed in this research. The richness of interactions and connections within the family system suggests that when explaining the relationships within the family system, the interpretation that is based on linear causality is abandoned and replaced by circular causality, which is the model of analysis utilized in this research project. The main goals of this research were to compare and contrast family functioning in two geographical locations and cultural contexts and to show statistically significant differences between these two groups, in order to better understand cultural variations and differences that may affect family functioning and ego-resiliency and to provide the different groups with adequate, necessary support services.

Research findings: The results revealed statistically significant differences in various dimensions of Family Communication and Flexibility between families of autistic children in California and Poland. With respect to both variables, higher scores were found in the California group. The flexibility results in both groups were defined as flexible. However, in regards to family communication, the result of the California group corresponded to higher standardized scores, whereas those of the group from Poland revealed moderate standardized scores.

Conclusions and recommendations: Statistically significant positive correlations were found in the variables of Flexibility and Family Communication between Poland and California. The results of this research are critical, not only from the perspective of scientific development (as similar studies have not been conducted), but also for therapeutic and preventive reasons. They suggest concentrating on preventive activities and aspects that are important for the well-being of the parent as a person, as well as the entire family system, especially the dimensions of communication in families with children with autism spectrum disorder and the ego-resiliency of the parents. However, further research is needed to specifically identify the differences between the groups based on various demographic variables. Additionally, it is important to develop a practical model to support families with autistic children and to address family satisfaction in intervention strategies, as well as to consider the importance of support groups that may improve satisfaction and ego-resiliency within the family system.


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How to Cite
Gerc, K., Novak, J. M., & Furman, M. (2023). Functioning of the Family System With an Autistic Child: A Comparative Study Between Poland and California, USA. Multidisciplinary Journal of School Education, 12(2 (24), 321-355.