Emotional and Physiological Responses to Infant Crying in Parents of Children with ASD
Objectives: Our aim was to evaluate the emotional and physiological responses of parents of children with ASD and compare with parents of typically developing children during the listening of crying of children with two different developmental conditions: autism and typical development.
Methods: The participants comprised 30 parents (15 mothers: M age = 33.9 years, SD = 6.02; 15 fathers: M age = 38.1 years, SD = 7.15) of typically developing children (M age = 3.0 years; SD = 1.70) and 19 parents (11 mothers: M age = 40.5 years, SD = 3.78; 8 fathers: M age = 40.8 years, SD = 3.15) of children diagnosed with ASD (M age = 5.7 years; SD = 1.82). The experiment was structured into two parts; the first part stands for the physiological data acquisition (heart rate), whereas the second one stands for the behavioral data acquisition (stress, arousal and valence) during the listening of crying of children with ASD and TD.
Results: Parents of children with ASD and parents of TD children are not differentiated in terms of how they reported TD cry and ASD cry. Interestingly, physiological results showed that parents of children with ASD have higher heart rate than parents of TD children during both ASD cry and TD cry.
Conclusions: These findings highlight how parents of children with ASD perceive a signal from a child with ASD. Regarding to the clinical implications, an intervention program for parents of children with ASD might be helpful to attend atypical crying episodes so parents can correctly interpret the signal from their children.