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Systems Analysis of Stress and Positive Perceptions in Mothers and Fathers of Pre-School Children with Autism

  • Richard P. HastingsEmail author
  • Hanna Kovshoff
  • Nicholas J. Ward
  • Francesca degli Espinosa
  • Tony Brown
  • Bob Remington
Article

Systemic analyses of psychological functioning in families of children with autism have typically shown that parents report different experiences (e.g., stress) and that siblings may also be affected. The purpose of the present research was more explicitly to address relationships between child, partner, and parent variables. Parents of 48 children with autism (41 mother–father pairs) reported on child characteristics, and their own stress and mental health. Mothers were found to report both more depression and more positive perceptions than fathers. Regression analyses revealed that paternal stress and positive perceptions were predicted by maternal depression; maternal stress was predicted by their children’s behavior problems (not adaptive behavior or autism symptoms) and by their partner’s depression. The future testing of the mechanisms underlying these results is discussed. In addition, the need is emphasized for more systemic analyses to understand the psychological functioning of children with autism and their siblings and parents.

Keywords

Autism mothers fathers stress positive perceptions pre-school children families 

Notes

Acknowledgement

Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by the Health Foundation (Grant number 2262/704). Any opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Health Foundation.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard P. Hastings
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Hanna Kovshoff
    • 2
  • Nicholas J. Ward
    • 2
  • Francesca degli Espinosa
    • 2
  • Tony Brown
    • 2
  • Bob Remington
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of Wales BangorBangor, GwyneddUK
  2. 2.Centre for Behavioural Research Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, School of PsychologyUniversity of Southampton UK
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of Wales BangorBangor, GwyneddUK

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