Stress, coping, and psychological distress of mothers of children with pervasive developmental disorders

Lauren E Tobing, Fordham University

Abstract

This study explored the factors related to psychological distress in mothers of children with pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) in an attempt to gain a better understanding of stress and coping in this population. Previous research (e.g., Bristol, 1987a; Bristol, 1987b) has explored the use of the ABCX model (Hill, 1958) with parents of children with autism and related disorders. Children's level of functional impairment, parenting stress, number of coping strategies employed, number of social supports, satisfaction with social supports, parenting sense of competence, and maternal psychological distress were examined. ^ Ninety-seven mothers of children diagnosed with autism, Asperger's syndrome, or PDD-NOS completed a series of self-report measures, including the Childhood Autism Rating Scale-Parent Version, the Parenting Stress Index/Short Form, the Coping Health Inventory for Parents, the Social Support Questionnaire-Short Form, the Parenting Sense of Competence Scale, the Brief Symptom Inventory 18, and an information form. In general, the results demonstrated partial support for a stress-coping model of adjustment for this population. Mothers in the total sample reported very high levels of parenting stress. Consistent with expectations, children's functional impairment and parenting stress each demonstrated positive relations with maternal distress. Parenting competence and satisfaction with social support demonstrated significant negative relations with maternal distress. However, number of coping strategies and number of social supports demonstrated nonsignificant relations with maternal distress. Regression analyses unexpectedly revealed that the influence of number of social supports augmented, rather than moderated, the relation between the combination of children's functional impairment and parenting stress and maternal distress. Also, number of coping strategies, parenting sense of competence, and satisfaction with social supports did not moderate this relation. ^ The results are discussed with respect to the previous literature on stress and coping for mothers of children with autism and related disorders. Based on these findings, a modified stress-coping model is proposed for mothers of children with a broad range of PDDs. This study has implications for those who provide services to children with autism-spectrum disorders and their families and provides several directions for future research. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Lauren E Tobing, "Stress, coping, and psychological distress of mothers of children with pervasive developmental disorders" (January 1, 2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3159399.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3159399

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