The role of child, family and intervention characteristics in predicting stress in parents of children with autism spectrum disorders

Jessica Ruth Everett, Fordham University

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by impairments in socialization, communication, and behavior. The extent to which individual children exhibit impairment in these areas varies greatly, and although there is typically improvement in functioning, many children with ASD exhibit skill deficits that impair their functioning throughout the course of their lives. Because of the nature of skill deficits in ASD and the ongoing need for specialized interventions, an abundance of research has focused on the effects of parenting a child with ASD. Generally, this research has found that parents of children with ASD exhibit higher levels of stress related to parenting than do parents of children both with and without other disabilities. However, this research has tended to focus on the effect that specific child and family characteristics have on parenting stress without exploring the effect of intervention characteristics. The present research simultaneously explored the effects of child, family, and intervention characteristics on stress related to parenting a child with ASD. ^ The current research focused on the effects of child adaptive functioning, family functioning strengths and the parent's perception of the family-centeredness of their child's educational program on stress related to parenting. It was found that both the child's level of adaptive functioning and the family's level of strengths predicted parenting stress. Family-centered behaviors, which involve a collaborative relationship between professionals and families and consideration of family needs and strengths in addition to child needs and strengths, were found to buffer the effects of child adaptive functioning on stress related to parenting. Thus, when parents perceived professionals at their child's educational program as possessing a high number of family-centered behaviors, the negative effect of child adaptive functioning on stress related to parenting was lessened. This finding suggests that when professionals follow a family-centered model of service delivery, there are beneficial outcomes for both child and family functioning. However, additional research will be needed to more fully understand the relation between family-centered service provision and child and family outcomes. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Jessica Ruth Everett, "The role of child, family and intervention characteristics in predicting stress in parents of children with autism spectrum disorders" (January 1, 2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3017546.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3017546

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