Objectives: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the association between (a) variables within the family system (i.e. relationship discord, social isolation, parental depression, and elevated parental stress) and (b) quality of life and child problem behavior.
Methods: One hundred and one mothers of 2-8 year old children with ASD participated. Measures included parent report of (a) child problem behavior, (b) overall quality of life, (c) maternal depression, (d) relationship discord, (e) parental stress, and (f) social support. Bivariate correlations and multiple regression analyses were used to evaluate the association among these variables.
Results: Participants reported significant levels of stress, relationship dissatisfaction, and depression. Bivariate correlations revealed significant moderate to high correlations between overall quality of life and relationship satisfaction (r = .64, p <.001), parental depression (r = .61, p <.001), and parental stress (r = -.55, p <.001) as well as significant moderate correlations between problem behavior and parental depression (r = .25, p <.01) and parental stress (r = .49, p <.001). Two separate multiple regression analyses were conducted for overall family quality of life and problem behavior as criterion variables. For family quality of life, the overall R2 was .63, F(4, 96) = 40.06, p < .001. The standardized regression coefficients (betas) were .39 for relationship satisfaction, -.23 for parental depression, .20 for social support, and -.29 for parental stress. For problem behavior, the overall R2 was .26, F(4, 96) = 8.34, p < .001. The standardized regression coefficients (betas) were -.09 for relationship satisfaction, .02 for depression, .09 for social support, and .48 for parental stress.
Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance of recognizing the role of the family in ASDs. Relationship discord, maternal depression, and parental stress were associated with (a) high levels of problem behavior in young children with ASDs and (b) poor quality of life for both the child and the family. The role of the family in ASDs and implications for future intervention research will be discussed.
See more of: Cognition and Behavior
See more of: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Phenotype