Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 509–526 | Cite as

Daily Sources of Autonomy-Supportive and Controlling Parenting in Mothers of Children with ASD: The Role of Child Behavior and Mothers’ Psychological Needs

  • Lisa M. DielemanEmail author
  • Bart Soenens
  • Maarten Vansteenkiste
  • Peter Prinzie
  • Nele Laporte
  • Sarah S. W. De Pauw
Original Paper


This study aimed to gain more insight in the sources of daily parenting among mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Specifically, we examined associations between daily variations in child behavior, mothers’ psychological needs, and mothers’ controlling and autonomy-supportive parenting. Moreover, the study examined the potential mediating role of daily vitality and stress within these associations. In total 41 mothers (Mage = 41.84 years) of children with ASD (Mage = 10.92 years, range 7–15) participated in a 7-day diary study. Multilevel structural equation modeling revealed that both daily child behavior (i.e., externalizing problems and prosocial behavior) and mothers’ psychological needs relate to day-to-day variation in parenting behavior. Daily stress and vitality played an intervening role in most of these associations.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Controlling parenting Autonomy support Psychological needs Child behavior Diary study Self-determination theory 



This research was funded by grants from the Marguerite-Marie Delacroix Support Fund (GV/B-202) and the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO) (12B4614N and 11X6516N). The authors wish to thank all the participating families for sharing their experiences. In addition, the authors wish to thank prof. Herbert Roeyers for his help with reviewing the diagnostic files, Rashida El Kaddouri, Chloè Bontinck and Ellen Demurie for administering the ADOS-2 and Sofie Velghe, Sigrid Verleyen, Katelijne Bogaerts, and Jolien Van Den Berge for helping with the data-collection. The authors also thank Dr. Thanasis Mouratidis and Joachim Waterschoot for their help with the data analysis.

Author Contributions

LD conceived of the study, participated in the design of the study, collected the data, performed the analyses, and drafted the manuscript. SD, BS, MV and PP conceived of the study, participated in its design, the coordination, and the interpretation of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript. NL participated in the design of the study, collected the data, participated in the interpretation of the data and helped to draft the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10803_2018_3726_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 KB)
10803_2018_3726_MOESM2_ESM.docx (128 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 128 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental, Personality and Social PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Faculty of Social Sciences, Pedagogical and Educational SciencesErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

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