Religiosity, Spirituality, and Socioemotional Functioning in Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Naomi V. Ekas
  • Thomas L. Whitman
  • Carolyn Shivers
Original Paper


Religious beliefs, religious activities, and spirituality are coping resources used by many mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examined whether and how these resources were related to maternal socioemotional functioning. Mothers of children with ASD completed questionnaires assessing religiosity, spirituality, and a wide range of outcome variables, including stress, depression, self-esteem, life satisfaction, positive affect, and sense of control. Analyses revealed that religious beliefs and spirituality were associated with better positive outcomes and, to a lesser extent, lower levels of negative outcomes. Of the two predictors, spirituality accounted for more unique variance in positive outcomes. In contrast, religious activities were related to more negative outcomes and lower levels of positive outcomes.


Autism Parenting stress Social support Religiosity Socioemotional functioning 



This research was supported in part by an NIMH training grant (2 T32 HD007184-28) and by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts at the University of Notre Dame. We thank the various parent support groups for their help and support in participant recruitment. We are also indebted to the families who gave their time to participate in this research. We are indebted to Cindy Bergeman and Anthony Ong for their help in the development of this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi V. Ekas
    • 1
  • Thomas L. Whitman
    • 1
  • Carolyn Shivers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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