Objectives: To present preliminary analysis of data from 7,450 parents enrolled in a national online ASD registry and research database.
Methods: In less than 10 months, 7,450 parents consented to participate in the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) registry and research database. Through a series of online questionnaires, parents provided basic data on demographics, educational background, and medical history.
Results: Of the 7,450 parents enrolled in the study, the vast majority (87.3%) are mothers. Mothers also report a higher rate of previous participation in ASD-related research projects (20% versus 12% for fathers). This preliminary report focuses on parental history of language/learning problems and mental health disorders. Key findings include: 25% of fathers and 17% of mothers report a speech/language delay, a learning disability, or having received speech therapy/special education services. 46% of mothers and 22% of fathers report having been diagnosed with or treated for depression. In addition, 26% of mothers and 13% of fathers have been diagnosed with or treated for an anxiety disorder.
Conclusions: Mothers of children with ASD are significantly more likely to enroll in ASD-related research studies, or to report a history of depression or anxiety, when compared to fathers. In contrast, fathers are more likely to report a history of speech or learning issues. Additional research on parents of children diagnosed with ASD may provide further insight into biological and sociological factors related to autism.