Parenting stress in mothers and fathers of toddlers with autism spectrum disorders: associations with child characteristics.
Elevated parenting stress is observed among mothers of older children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), but little is known about parents of young newly-diagnosed children. Associations between child behavior and parenting stress were examined in mothers and fathers of 54 toddlers with ASD (mean age = 26.9 months). Parents reported elevated parenting stress. Deficits/delays in children's social relatedness were associated with overall parenting stress, parent-child relationship problems, and distress for mothers and fathers. Regulatory problems were associated with maternal stress, whereas externalizing behaviors were associated with paternal stress. Cognitive functioning, communication deficits, and atypical behaviors were not uniquely associated with parenting stress. Clinical assessment of parental stress, acknowledging differences in parenting experiences for mothers and fathers of young children with ASD, is needed.
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