Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 7, pp 848-858

First online:

Feeling Good, Feeling Bad: Influences of Maternal Perceptions of the Child and Marital Adjustment on Well-being in Mothers of Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Diane M. LickenbrockAffiliated withUniversity of Notre DameDepartment of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University Email author 
  • , Naomi V. EkasAffiliated withUniversity of Miami
  • , Thomas L. WhitmanAffiliated withUniversity of Notre Dame

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Mothers of children with an autism spectrum disorder (n = 49) participated in a 30-day diary study which examined associations between mothers’ positive and negative perceptions of their children, marital adjustment, and maternal well-being. Hierarchical linear modeling results revealed that marital adjustment mediated associations between positive perceptions and maternal well-being. Mothers who reported higher levels of positive perceptions of the child were higher in marital adjustment and well-being. Results also revealed that marital adjustment moderated the relation between negative perceptions and negative maternal affect. Mothers low in marital adjustment had a positive association between negative maternal perceptions of the child and negative maternal affect. These findings highlight the dynamic roles that mothers’ perceptions and marital adjustment play in determining maternal psychological outcomes.


Autism Daily experiences Marital adjustment Maternal well-being Multilevel modeling Negative and positive maternal perceptions of the child