Network Characteristics, Perceived Social Support, and Psychological Adjustment in Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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- Benson, P.R. J Autism Dev Disord (2012) 42: 2597. doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1517-9
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This study examined the characteristics of the support networks of 106 mothers of children with ASD and their relationship to perceived social support, depressed mood, and subjective well-being. Using structural equation modeling, two competing sets of hypotheses were assessed: (1) that network characteristics would impact psychological adjustment directly, and (2) that network effects on adjustment would be indirect, mediated by perceived social support. Results primarily lent support to the latter hypotheses, with measures of network structure (network size) and function (proportion of network members providing emotional support) predicting increased levels of perceived social support which, in turn, predicted decreased depressed mood and increased well-being. Results also indicated that increased interpersonal strain in the maternal network was directly and indirectly associated with increased maternal depression, while being indirectly linked to reduced well-being. Study limitations and implications are discussed.