Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 12, pp 2597–2610 | Cite as

Network Characteristics, Perceived Social Support, and Psychological Adjustment in Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Original Paper

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Social Networks Social Support Psychological Adjustment Autism Spectrum Disorder Mothers 

References

  1. Abbeduto, L., Seltzer, M. M., Shattuck, P., Krauss, M. W., Orsmond, G., Murphy, M. M., et al. (2004). Psychological well-being and coping in mothers of youths with autism, Down syndrome, or fragile X syndrome. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 109, 237–254.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ajrouch, K. J., Blandon, A. Y., & Antonucci, T. C. (2005). Social networks among men and women: The effects of age and socioeconomic status. Journal of Gerontology, 60B, S311–S317.Google Scholar
  3. Antonucci, T. C. (1986). Social support networks: Hierarchical mapping technique. Generations, 10, 1–12.Google Scholar
  4. Antonucci, T. C. (2001). Social relations: An examination of social networks, social support, and sense of control. In K. E. Birren & K. W. Schaie (Eds.), Handbook of psychology of aging (pp. 427–453). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. Antonucci, T. C., & Akiyama, H. (1987). Social networks in adult life and a preliminary examination of the convoy model. Journal of Gerontology, 42, 519–527.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Arbukle, J. L. (2010). IBM SPSS Amos 19 user’s guide. Chicago: Amos Development Corporation.Google Scholar
  7. Ashida, S., & Heaney, C. A. (2008). Differential association of social support and social connectedness with structural features of social networks and the health status of older Americans. Journal of Aging and Health, 20, 872–893.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beggs, J. J., Haines, V. A., & Hurlbert, J. S. (1996). Situational contingencies surrounding the receipt of social support. Social Forces, 75, 201–222.Google Scholar
  9. Benson, P. R. (2006). The impact of symptom severity of depressed mood among parents of children with ASD: The mediating role of stress proliferation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 685–695.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Benson, P. R. (2010). Coping, distress, and well-being in mothers of children with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 4, 217–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Benson, P. R., & Karlof, K. L. (2008). Child, parent, and family predictors of latter adjustment in siblings of children with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2, 583–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Benson, P. R., & Karlof, K. L. (2009). Anger, stress proliferation, and depressed mood among parents of children with ASD: A longitudinal replication. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 350–362.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Benson, P. R., Karlof, K. L., & Siperstein, G. N. (2008). Maternal involvement in the education of young children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism, 12, 47–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Beresford, B. A. (1994). Resources and strategies how parents cope with the care of a disabled child. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35, 171–209.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Berkman, L. F., Glass, T., Brissette, I., & Seeman, T. (2000). From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Social Science and Medicine, 51, 843–857.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Blacher, J., & McIntyre, L. L. (2006). Syndrome specificity and behavioral disorders in young adults with intellectual disability: Cultural differences in family impact. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50, 184–198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Boyd, B. A. (2002). Examining the relationship between stress and lack of social support in mothers of children with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 17, 208–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Brissette, I., Cohen, S., & Seeman, T. E. (2000). Measuring social integration and social networks. In S. Cohen, L. H. Underwood, & B. H. Gottlieb (Eds.), Social support measurement and intervention: A guide for health and social scientists (pp. 53–85). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Bromley, J., Hare, D. J., Davidson, K., & Emerson, E. (2006). Mothers supporting children with autism spectrum disorders: Social support, mental health status, and satisfaction with services. Autism, 8, 409–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Brown, G. W., & Harris, T. O. (1978). The social origins of depression: A study of psychiatric disorder in women. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  21. Burg, M. M., & Seeman, T. E. (1994). Families and health: The negative side of social ties. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 16, 109–115.Google Scholar
  22. Chan, Y. K., & Lee, R. P. L. (2006). Network size, social support, and happiness in later life: A comparative study in Beijing and Hong Kong. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 87–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Constantino, J. N., Davis, S. A., Todd, R. D., Schindler, M. K., Gross, M. M., Brophy, S. L., et al. (2003). Validation of a brief quantitative measure of autistic traits: Comparison of the social responsiveness scale with the autism diagnostic interview-revised. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 427–433.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ekas, N. V., Lickenborck, D. M., & Whitman, T. L. (2010). Optimism, social support, and well-being in mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 1274–1284.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Emerson, E. (2003). Mothers of children and adolescents with intellectual disability: Social and economic situation, mental health status, and the self-assessed social and psychological impact of the child’s difficulties. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 47, 385–399.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fiori, K. L., Antonnucci, T. C., & Cortina, K. S. (2006). Social network typologies and mental health among older adults. Journal of Gerontology, 61B, P25–P32.Google Scholar
  27. Fuhrer, R., Stansfield, S. A., Dhemali, J., & Shipley, M. J. (1999). Gender, social relations, and mental health: Prospective findings from an occupational cohort (Whitehall II study). Social Science and Medicine, 48, 77–87.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Glidden, L. M., & Schoolcraft, S. A. (2007). Family assessment and social support. In J. W. Jacobson, J. A. Mulick, & J. Rojahn (Eds.), Handbook of intellectual and developmental disabilities (pp. 391–422). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Haines, V. A., Beggs, J. J., & Hurlbert, J. S. (2002). Exploring the structural contexts of the support process: Social networks, social statuses, social support, and psychological distress. In J. Levy & B. A. Pescosolido (Eds.), Social networks and health (pp. 269–292). New York: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Haines, V. A., Beggs, J. J., & Hurlbert, J. S. (2008). Contextualizing health outcomes: Do effects of network structure differ for woman and men? Sex Roles, 59, 164–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hartwell, S. W., & Benson, P. R. (2007). Social integration: A conceptual overview and two case studies. In B. A. Pescosolido, J. D. McLeod, & W. R. Avison (Eds.), Mental health, social mirror (pp. 329–353). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hastings, R. P., & Beck, A. (2004). Practitioner review: Stress interventions for parents of children with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 45, 1338–1349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hastings, R. P., & Brown, T. (2002). Child behavior problems of autistic children, parental self-efficacy, and mental health. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 107, 222–232.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Heaney, C. A., & Israel, B. A. (2008). Social networks and social support. In K. Glantz, B. Rimer, & K. Vaswaneth (Eds.), Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice (4th ed., pp. 189–212). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  35. Helgeson, V. S., & Gottlieb, B. H. (2000). Support groups. In S. Cohen, L. G. Underwood, & B. H. Gottlieb (Eds.), Social support measurement and intervention: A guide for health and social scientists (pp. 221–245). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jennings, K. D., Stagg, V., & Connors, R. E. (1991). Social networks and mothers’ interaction with their preschool children. Child Development, 62, 966–978.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kazak, A. E. (1987). Families with disabled children: Stress and social networks in three samples. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 15, 137–146.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kazak, A. E., & Marvin, R. S. (1984). Differences, difficulties, and adaptation: Stress and social networks in families with a handicapped child. Family Relations, 33, 67–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kazak, A. E., & Wilcox, D. I. (1984). The structure and function of social support networks in families with handicapped children. American Journal of Community Psychology, 12, 646–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kessler, R. C., & McLeod, J. D. (1984). Sex differences in vulnerability to undesirable life events. American Sociological Review, 49, 620–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lakey, B., & Cohen, S. (2000). Social support theory and measurement. In S. Cohen, L. G. Underwood, & B. H. Gottlieb (Eds.), Social support measurement and intervention: A guide for health and social scientists (pp. 29–52). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Levitt, M. J., Guacci-Franco, N., & Levitt, J. L. (1993). Convoys of social support in childhood and early adolescence: Structure and function. Developmental Psychology, 29, 811–818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Levitt, M. J., Weber, R. A. S., & Clark, M. C. (1986). Social network relationships as sources of maternal support and well-being. Developmental Psychology, 22, 310–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lin, N., & Peek, K. (1999). Social networks and mental health. In A. V. Horwitz & T. L. Schneid (Eds.), A handbook for the study of mental health: Social contexts, theories, and systems (1st ed., pp. 241–258). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Lincoln, K. D. (2000). Social support, negative social interactions, and psychological well-being. Social Service Review, 74, 231–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lindblad-Goldberg, M., & Dukes, J. L. (1985). Social support in black, low-income, ingle parent families. Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 55, 42–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Longmore, M. A., & Demaris, A. (1997). Perceived inequality and depression in intimate relationships: The moderating effect of self-esteem. Social Psychology Quarterly, 60, 172–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lord, C., Rutter, M., & Le Couteur, A. (1994). Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised: A revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 659–685.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mandell, M. S., & Salzer, D. S. (2007). Who joins support groups among parents of children with autism. Autism, 11, 111–122.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Marcus, L. M., Kunce, L., & Scholpler, E. (2005). Working with families. In F. R. Volkmar, R. Paul, A. Klin, & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorder (pp. 1055–1086). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  52. Marsden, P. V., & Campbell, K. E. (1984). Measuring tie strength. Social Forces, 63, 482–501.Google Scholar
  53. McLaughlin, J., Horwitz, A. V., & White, H. R. (2002). The differential importance of friend, relative, and partner relationships for the mental health of young adults. In J. A. Levy & B. A. Pescosolido (Eds.), Social networks and health (pp. 223–246). New York: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mirowsky, J., & Ross, C. E. (1992). Age and depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 33, 187–205.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Mirowsky, J., & Ross, C. E. (2003). Social causes of psychological distress. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  56. Olsson, M. B., & Hwang, C. P. (2001). Depression in mothers and fathers of children with intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 45, 535–543.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Peek, K. M., & Lin, N. (1999). Age differences in the effects of network composition on psychological distress. Social Science and Medicine, 49, 621–636.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pescosolido, B. A., & Georgianna, S. (1989). Durkheim, suicide, and religion: Toward a network theory of suicide. American Sociological Review, 54, 33–48.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pillemer, K., Suitor, J. J., Pardo, S., & Henderson, C. (2010). Mother’s differentiation and depressive symptoms among adult children. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 72, 333–345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pottie, C. G., Cohen, J., & Ingram, K. M. (2009). Parenting a child with autism: Contextual factors associated with enhanced daily parental mood. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34, 419–429.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 879–891.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Radoff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D Scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rook, K., Sorkin, D., & Zettel, L. (2003). Stress in social relationships: Coping and adaptation across the life span. In F. R. Long (Ed.), Growing together: Personal relationships across the life span (pp. 210–239). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ross, C. E. (1996). Work, family, and well-being in the United States, 1990. Champaign, IL: Survey Research Laboratory, University of Illinois.Google Scholar
  65. Ross, C. E., & Mirowsky, J. (1984). The components of depressed mood in married men and women: The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. American Journal of Epidemiology, 119, 997–1004.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Seeman, T. E., & Berkman, L. F. (1988). Social characteristics of social networks and their relationship with social support in the elderly: Who provides support? Social Science and Medicine, 26, 737–749.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Singer, G. H. S. (2006). Meta-analysis of comparative studies of depression in mothers of children with and without developmental disabilities. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 111, 155–169.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Smith, L. E., Greenberg, J. S., & Seltzer, M. M. (2011). Social support and well-being at mid-life among mothers of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. doi:10.1007/s10803-011-1420-9.
  69. Suitor, J. J., & Pillemer, K. (2002). Gender, social support, and experiential similarity during chronic stress. Advances in Medical Sociology, 8, 247–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Tausig, M. (1992). Caregiver network structure, support, and caregiver distress. American Journal of Community Psychology, 20, 81–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Thoits, P. A. (1995). Stress, coping, and social support processes: Where are we? What’s next? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 36, 72–82.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Thoits, P. A. (2011). Mechanisms linking social ties and support to physical and mental health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 52, 145–161.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Trute, B., & Hauch, S. (1988). Social network attributes of families with positive adaptation to the birth of a developmentally disabled child. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 7, 5–16.Google Scholar
  74. Turner, R. Jay., & Brown, R. L. Brown. (2010). Social support and mental health. In A. V. Horwitz & T. L. Schneid (Eds.), A Handbook for the study of mental health: Social contexts, theories, and systems (2nd ed., pp. 200–212). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Weiss, M. J. (2002). Hardiness and social support as predictors of stress in mothers of typical children, children with autism, and children with mental retardation. Autism, 6, 115–130.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wellman, B., & Frank, K. A. (2001). Network capital in a multilevel world: Getting support from personal communities. In N. Lee, K. Cook, & R. S. Burt (Eds.), Social capital: Theory and research (pp. 23–273). New York: Aldine De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  77. Wellman, B., Potter, S., & Gulia, M. (2003), Where does social support come from? The interpersonal resources for coping with stress [electronic version]. In A. Manley, & J. Ramos (Eds.), Socioeconomic conditions, stress, and mental disorder: Toward a new synthesis of research and public policy (Chap. 15) Rockville, MD: National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved August 15, 2011 from http://www.mhsip.org/nimhdoc/ socioeconmh_home2.htm.
  78. Wellman, B., & Wortley, S. (1990). Different strokes from different folks: Community ties and social support. American Journal of Sociology, 96, 558–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. White, N., & Hastings, R. P. (2004). Social and professional support for parents of adolescents with severe intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Intellectual Disabilities, 17, 181–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Zimet, G. D., Dahlem, N. W., Zimet, S. G., & Farley, G. K. (1988). The multidimensional scale of perceived social support. Journal of Personality Assessment, 52, 30–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Center for Social Development and EducationUniversity of Massachusetts BostonBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations