Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 11, pp 2604–2616

Respite Care, Marital Quality, and Stress in Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Amber Harper
  • Tina Taylor Dyches
  • James Harper
  • Susanne Olsen Roper
  • Mikle South
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-013-1812-0

Cite this article as:
Harper, A., Dyches, T.T., Harper, J. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2013) 43: 2604. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1812-0


Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are at risk for having higher stress and lower marital quality than other parents. Survey data regarding respite care, marital quality, and daily hassles and uplifts were obtained from 101 mother-father dyads who were together raising at least one child with ASD (total # of children = 118). Number of hours of respite care was positively related to improved marital quality for both husbands and wives, such that a 1-h increase in weekly respite care was associated with a one-half standard deviation increase in marital quality. This relationship was significantly mediated by perceived daily stresses and uplifts in both husbands and wives. More respite care was associated with increased uplifts and reduced stress; increased uplifts were associated with improved marital quality; and more stress was associated with reduced marital quality. The number of children in the family was associated with greater stress, and reduced relational quality and daily uplifts. Results suggest policymakers and practitioners should develop supports for providing respite for families raising children with ASD.


Autism spectrum disordersMarital qualityRespiteSocial supportStressMothers and fathers

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amber Harper
    • 1
  • Tina Taylor Dyches
    • 2
  • James Harper
    • 3
  • Susanne Olsen Roper
    • 4
  • Mikle South
    • 5
  1. 1.Giant Steps, Wasatch Mental HealthOremUSA
  2. 2.Department of Counseling Psychology and Special EducationBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  3. 3.School of Family LifeBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  4. 4.School of Family LifeBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  5. 5.Department of Psychology and Neuroscience CenterBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA