The perceived social support and its relationship between occupational balance and family functioning in rehabilitation among Turkish parents of pre-school children with autism



Imagine the immense challenges faced by parents raising a child with autism. The preschool years are particularly demanding, as intervention and rehabilitation are often most intensive during this crucial developmental period. A recent study published in April 2024 aimed to shed light on how Turkish parents of autistic preschoolers navigate these challenges. The research, titled “The perceived social support and its relationship between occupational balance and family functioning in rehabilitation among Turkish parents of pre-school children with autism,” underscores the vital role that social support networks play in empowering parents and fostering well-being for both parents and children.


The Balancing Act: Challenges Faced by Parents of Autistic Children


For parents of children with autism, each day can feel like a delicate balancing act. They must prioritize their child’s needs, ensuring they receive appropriate therapy and support. At the same time, parents must manage their own well-being, maintain strong relationships with their partners and other children, and fulfill work and household obligations. This constant pressure can lead to occupational imbalance, where parents feel overwhelmed and struggle to manage their various roles. When occupational imbalance persists, it can negatively impact family functioning, creating stress and strain on family dynamics.


The Buffering Power of Social Support


The study emphasizes the significance of social support in mitigating these challenges for Turkish parents. Social support refers to the emotional, practical, and informational resources that individuals receive from their social networks. This can include support from family members, friends, therapists, support groups, and even online communities.


Social Support and Occupational Balance


The research suggests that strong social support networks can empower Turkish parents of autistic preschoolers to achieve a better occupational balance. Here’s how social support can make a difference:

  • Emotional Support: Social connections provide a safe space for parents to express their feelings, frustrations, and anxieties. Talking to a supportive friend, family member, or therapist can help alleviate stress and promote emotional well-being.
  • Practical Support: Social support networks can offer practical assistance with daily tasks and childcare. For example, a friend might offer to help with errands or watch other children while parents attend therapy appointments.
  • Informational Support: Social networks can connect parents with valuable information and resources. Support groups, online communities, and therapists can provide guidance on managing challenging behaviors, accessing appropriate therapies, and navigating the complex world of autism.


By providing emotional, practical, and informational support, social connections can empower parents to feel more confident and capable in managing their various roles. This can lead to a better occupational balance, where parents feel less overwhelmed and have the energy to fulfill their responsibilities effectively.


Social Support and Family Functioning


The April 2024 study also suggests that strong social support networks contribute to stronger family dynamics. Here’s how:

  • Reduced Parental Stress: When parents feel supported, they experience less stress and anxiety. This can create a more positive and nurturing home environment for the entire family.
  • Enhanced Communication: Social support networks can encourage open communication within families. Parents may feel more comfortable discussing challenges and concerns with their partner or other family members, fostering stronger relationships and collaboration.
  • Shared Experiences: Connecting with other parents of autistic children can provide a sense of belonging and shared experience. This can reduce feelings of isolation and empower families to navigate challenges together.


With reduced stress, improved communication, and a sense of shared experience, strong social support networks can contribute to more positive family functioning. This, in turn, creates a more nurturing environment for the autistic child’s development and well-being.


Implications for Parents and Professionals


The findings of this study offer valuable takeaways for both parents and professionals working with families of autistic children.

  • For Parents: Recognize the immense value of social support. Don’t hesitate to reach out to family, friends, therapists, or support groups for emotional, practical, and informational resources. There is no shame in asking for help. Building a strong social support network is an investment in your own well-being and your child’s future.
  • For Professionals: Healthcare providers, therapists, and educators can play a crucial role in connecting parents with social support resources. This may involve providing information on local support groups, online communities for Turkish families, or even facilitating in-person support groups within their practice.




The April 2024 study shines a light on the critical role of social support in promoting occupational balance and family well-being for Turkish parents raising autistic preschoolers. By fostering strong social connections, parents can feel more empowered and equipped to navigate the challenges of their child’s rehabilitation and create a nurturing environment for the entire family.



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