Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 8, pp 1908–1917 | Cite as

Examination of Bidirectional Relationships Between Parent Stress and Two Types of Problem Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Anat Zaidman-ZaitEmail author
  • Pat Mirenda
  • Eric Duku
  • Peter Szatmari
  • Stelios Georgiades
  • Joanne Volden
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
  • Tracy Vaillancourt
  • Susan Bryson
  • Isabel Smith
  • Eric Fombonne
  • Wendy Roberts
  • Charlotte Waddell
  • Ann Thompson
  • the Pathways in ASD Study Team
Original Paper


Path analysis within a structural equation modeling framework was employed to examine the relationships between two types of parent stress and children’s externalizing and internalizing behaviors over a 4-year period, in a sample of 184 mothers of young children with autism spectrum disorder. Parent stress was measured with the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form and child behavior was measured with Child Behavior Checklist/1.5–5. Across all time points, parent general distress predicted both types of child behaviors, but not vice versa. In addition, there was modest evidence of a bidirectional relationship between parenting distress and both types of child behaviors from 12 months post-diagnosis to age 6. Results are compared to previous work in this area, with implications for early intervention.


Autism spectrum disorder Parenting stress Externalizing behavior Internalizing behavior 



This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Autism Speaks, the Government of British Columbia, the Alberta Innovates—Health Solutions, and the Sinneave Family Foundation. The authors thank all the families who participated in the Pathways in ASD study. The authors also acknowledge the past and current members of the Pathways in ASD Study Team, who made equal contributions to the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10803_2014_2064_MOESM1_ESM.docx (496 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 496 kb)
10803_2014_2064_MOESM2_ESM.docx (540 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 540 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anat Zaidman-Zait
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Pat Mirenda
    • 2
  • Eric Duku
    • 3
  • Peter Szatmari
    • 4
    • 11
  • Stelios Georgiades
    • 3
  • Joanne Volden
    • 5
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
    • 5
  • Tracy Vaillancourt
    • 6
  • Susan Bryson
    • 7
  • Isabel Smith
    • 7
  • Eric Fombonne
    • 8
    • 12
  • Wendy Roberts
    • 9
  • Charlotte Waddell
    • 10
  • Ann Thompson
    • 3
  • the Pathways in ASD Study Team
  1. 1.School of EducationTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  4. 4.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  6. 6.University of OttawaOttawaCanada
  7. 7.IWK Health Sciences Centre/Dalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  8. 8.Oregon Health Sciences UniversityPortlandUSA
  9. 9.The Hospital for Sick Children/University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  10. 10.Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  11. 11.Offord Centre for Child StudiesMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  12. 12.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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