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Inter-relationships between trait resilience, coping strategies, and mental health outcomes in autistic adults
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-05, 01:21 authored by Melanie MuniandyMelanie Muniandy, Amanda RichdaleAmanda Richdale, SRC Arnold, JN Trollor, Lauren LawsonLauren Lawson
Resilience has been depicted as a key characteristic in the promotion of mental health in the face of stress and adversity. Despite high levels of stress encountered in the autistic population, resilience studies remain scarce. Using data from an Australian longitudinal adult study, this study explored the inter-relationships between trait resilience, coping, and mental health in a sample of autistic adults (N = 78). In particular, we examined the relationship between resilience and use of coping strategies, and the potential mediating role of coping strategies in the relationship between resilience and mental health outcomes. Our findings suggested that increased use of engagement coping (e.g., problem-solving, positive appraisal) and decreased use of disengagement coping (e.g., self-blame, being in denial) strategies were associated with higher levels of resilience. Further, mediation analysis results suggest that disengagement coping mediated the associations between resilience and all three mental health outcomes (i.e., depression, anxiety, and well-being), while engagement coping strategies mediated the relationship between resilience and well-being only. Our results illustrate that coping strategies may be an important mechanism in explaining the resilience-mental health relationship in autistic adults, highlighting the importance of considering stress-related constructs together (i.e., trait resilience and coping) when addressing support and intervention options for mental health difficulties in the autistic adult population. Lay Summary: This research explored how resilience and coping strategies influence the mental health and well-being of autistic adults. We found that resilient autistic adults used more engagement coping strategies, less disengagement coping strategies, and reported better mental health and well-being. Considering stress-related factors together (i.e., resilience and coping) offers a novel perspective to mental health difficulties in autistic adults and may be a vital step in the development of support options in this population.