FATHER AND ATYPICAL SON: A STUDY OF SOCIAL INTERACTION
SCHWARTZMAN, MICHAEL AARON
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A paucity of literature exists on the father's role in the life of his child. In an effort to add to the literature on fathers and atypical children, this study attempts to (a) describe father-atypical son interaction; (b) investigate father's attitudes and child rearing practices used in relating to his atypical son; and (c) compare interaction styles of fathers and normal sons and fathers and atypical sons.;It is hypothesized that differences, as measured by the Interpersonal Behavior Constructs Scale (Kogan & Gordon, 1975), exist in the ways that fathers and normal sons interact as compared with the ways that fathers and their atypical sons interact.;The subjects are two fathers and their five year old sons who were diagnosed as childhood onset Pervasive Developmental Disorder. A sample of fathers and normal five year old sons used for comparison purposes was obtained from a study done by Strong (1978).;The father-atypical son pairs were videotaped and then analyzed independently by two raters utilizing the Interpersonal Behavior Constructs Scale (Kogan & Gordon, 1975). Father's attitudes and child rearing practices were determined through a semi-structured interview.;The hypothesis that differences exist in the ways that fathers and normal sons interact as compared with the ways that fathers and atypical sons interact is supported. Results indicate that fathers of atypical children tend to work with their sons, sharing an activity, as they interact. Fathers use physical and verbal means to accomplish this and reveal a tendency to be controlling and physically intrusive. Fathers of normal children, according to Strong (1978), tend to work independently of their sons, as they interact, and facilitate this independence by watching and talking to them.;The discussion notes the consistency of these findings with literature which describes fathers of atypical children as being controlling and physically intrusive. Alternate conclusions are discussed. The first explanation considers the father to be responding to the child's behavioral deviations and attempting to insure that he does not lose control and appear bizarre. The second explanation considers the father to be responding to his son's developmental deficiencies by providing, in a way the child can understand, cues and structure which enable him to interact appropriately.