Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 9, pp 1202–1213 | Cite as

Adaptation to Daily Stress Among Mothers of Children With an Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Role of Daily Positive Affect

  • Naomi V. EkasEmail author
  • Thomas L. Whitman
Original Paper


Raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder is a challenging experience that can impact maternal well-being. Using a daily diary methodology, this study investigates (1) the relationship between stress and negative affect, and (2) the role of daily positive affect as a protective factor in the stress and negative affect relationship. Results from hierarchical linear models revealed that higher levels of stress were associated with decreased negative affect, both within and across days. Daily positive affect buffered the immediate and longer-lasting negative impact of stress on days of low to moderate levels of stress. Implications of the present study are discussed with regard to theoretical models of positive affect, the development of intervention programs, and directions for future research.


Autism spectrum disorder Parent stress Daily diary Positive affect 



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 also thank Cindy Bergeman, Scott Maxwell, and Julia Braungart-Rieker for their comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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