Parenting-related stress and psychological distress in mothers of toddlers with autism spectrum disorders.
BACKGROUND: Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are at risk for higher stress levels than parents of children with other developmental disabilities and typical development. Recent advances in early diagnosis have resulted in younger children being diagnosed with ASDs but factors associated with parent stress in this age group are not well understood. AIMS: The present study examined parenting-related stress and psychological distress in mothers of toddlers with ASD, developmental delay without ASD (DD), and typical development. The impact of child problem behavior and daily living skills on parenting-stress and psychological distress were further investigated. METHODS: Participants were part of a larger research study on early ASD intervention. RESULTS: Parent self-report of parenting-related stress and psychological distress was utilized. Parents of toddlers with ASD demonstrated increased parenting-related stress compared with parents of toddlers with DD and typical development. However, psychological distress did not differ significantly between the groups. Child behavior problems, but not daily living skills emerged as a significant predictor of parenting-related stress and psychological distress. This was true for both mothers of children with ASD and DD. CONCLUSIONS: These finding suggest that parents' abilities to manage and reduce behavior problems is a critical target for interventions for young children with ASD and DD in order to improve child functioning and decrease parenting-related stress.
Estes, A; Olson, E; Sullivan, K; Greenson, J; Winter, J; Dawson, G; Munson, J
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