TitleA cross-sectional study of patterns of renewed stress among parents of children with autism
NameFiske, Kate E. (author), Harris, Sandra (chair), Wagner, George (internal member), McCarthy, Danielle (internal member), MacDonald, Rebecca (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Parents of autistic children,
DescriptionParents of children with autism report levels of stress higher than that reported by parents of children with other developmental disabilities and typically developing children (Donovan, 1988). Though a considerable amount of research has focused on the identification of variables, specific to autism, that increase parent stress, little attention has been given to shifts in parenting stress over time. Parents may be especially susceptible to increased stress during times characterized by transitions in their child's educational, vocational, or residential placement and at times when they are reminded of the effects of the long-term nature of their child's diagnosis. Children's developmental transitions into school-age, adolescence, and adulthood are times during which parents are often faced with decisions about their child's placement and may be more likely to experience "transition" and "reminder" events that increase parent stress.
The current study compared the stress of parents (67 mothers and 39 fathers) whose children were currently aging into a developmental transition and those whose children were not. Parents completed questionnaires regarding their current level of stress, recent experiences raising their child with autism, child behavior, and social support. Contrary to expectations, parents of children in developmental transition groups did not report higher stress levels than did other parents. Additionally, parents of children in developmental transition and non-developmental transition groups were equally likely to report considering a transition in their child's placement or being reminded of their child's long-term diagnosis. However, child problem behavior significantly predicted parenting stress for mothers and fathers, and the number of reported reminders of their child's long-term diagnosis significantly predicted increased parenting and general life stress for fathers, but not for mothers.
Though replication and a larger sample size are necessary to validate the findings in the current study, these initial results suggest that mothers' and fathers' stress levels are differentially affected by their experiences with their child with autism. Implications of this research include tailoring parent support to address concerns about child problem behavior and, for fathers, addressing the perceived impact of their child's long-term disability on the goals they held for themselves and their child prior to diagnosis.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 59-62)
Noteby Kate E. Fiske
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.