The predictors of distress in parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Ian Firth, Mary Dryer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


Background: It is well recognised that parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often experience clinically significant levels of stress and depression. This study examined which ASD characteristic best predicted parental distress. Method: Parents of 109 children aged between four and 12 (mean age = 7.89, SD = 2.43), completed self-report measures of anxiety, depression, stress and parenting-specific stress. They also completed rating scales regarding their child's ASD characteristics. Results: This study found that the child's behavioural and emotional impairments predicted the parents' overall levels of distress (i.e., stress/tension, anxiety and depression) but not the stress associated with parenting. Instead, the child's social impairment severity was found to predict parenting specific stress. Conclusion: This study highlights the pervasive influence of ASD symptomatology on the mental well-being of the parents and the importance of assisting parents to cope with the -behavioural and social impairments of their child.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-171
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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