Advertisement

Increased Psychopathology in Parents of Children with Autism: Genetic Liability or Burden of Caregiving?

  • Danelle HodgeEmail author
  • Charles D. Hoffman
  • Dwight P. Sweeney
Article

Abstract

The goals of this research were to identify which psychopathologies are common in parents of children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and to explore competing hypotheses regarding mechanisms contributing to this risk. By comparing rates of psychopathology in mothers and fathers of children with ASD to rates of psychopathology in parents of typically developing children, this study examined whether increased risk for psychopathology was likely related to genetics or to the burden of caring for a child with a disability. Participants were 269 parents of children with ASD and 446 parents of typically developing children. Mothers and fathers of children with ASD reported significantly more depression, interpersonal sensitivity, paranoid ideation, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. The pattern of findings suggests that genetic factors, as opposed to caregiving demands, may contribute to the risk for psychopathology in parents of children with ASD.

Keywords

Autism Parenting Genetics Caregiver burden Mental health 

References

  1. Abbeduto, L., Seltzer, M. M., Shattuck, P., Krauss, M. W., Orsmond, G., & Murphey, M. (2004). Psychological well-being and coping in mothers of youths with autism, Down syndrome, or fragile X syndrome. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 109, 237–254.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, B. L., Blacher, J., Crnic, K. A., & Edelbrook, C. (2002). Behavior problems and parenting stress in families of three-year-old children with and without developmental delays. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 107, 433–444.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bebko, J. M., Konstantareas, M. M., & Springer, J. (1987). Parent and professional evaluations of family stress associated with characteristics of autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 17, 565–576.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blacher, J., Lopez, S., Shapiro, J., & Fusco, J. (1997). Contributions to depression in Latina others with and without children with retardation: Implications for caregiving. Family Relations, 46, 325–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blumberg, S. J., Olson, L., Frankel, M. R., Osborn, L., Srinath, K. P., & Giambo, P. (2005). Design and operation of the National Survey of Children’s Health. Vital Health Statistics, 43, 1–124.Google Scholar
  6. Bölte, S., Knecht, S., & Poustka, P. (2007). A case-control study of personality style and psychopathology in parents of subjects with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 243–250.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bolton, P. F., Pickles, A., Murphy, M., & Rutter, A. (1998). Autism, affective and other psychiatric disorders: patterns of familial aggregation. Psychological Medicine, 28, 385–395.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bovier, P. A., Chamot, E., & Perneger, T. V. (2004). Perceived stress, internal resources, and social support as determinants of mental health among young adults. Quality of Life Research, 13, 161–170.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bristol, M. M., Gallagher, J. J., & Schopler, E. (1988). Mothers and fathers of young developmentally disabled and nondisabled boys: adaptation and spousal support. Developmental Psychology, 24, 441–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen, J. I. (2000). Stress and mental health: a biobehavioral perspective. Issues In Mental Health Nursing, 21, 185–202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Derogatis, L. R., Lipman, R. S., & Covi, L. (1973). SCL-90: an outpatient psychiatric rating scale-preliminary report. Psychopharmacological Bulletin, 9, 13–25.Google Scholar
  12. Derogatis, L. R., & Spencer, M. S. (1982). The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI): Administration, scoring and procedures manual—1. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University School o Medicine, Clinical Psychometrics Research Unit.Google Scholar
  13. Donovan, A. M. (1988). Family stress and ways of coping with adolescents who have handicaps. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 92, 502–509.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Dumas, J. E., Wolf, L. C., Fisman, S. N., & Culligan, A. (1991). Parenting stress, child behavior problems, and dysphoria in parents of children with autism, down syndrome, behavior disorders, and normal development. Exceptionality, 2, 97–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Folstein, S., & Rutter, M. (1977). Genetic influences and infantile autism. Nature, 265, 726–728. doi: 10.1038/265726a0.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fombonne, E. (2003). Epidemiological surveys of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders: an update. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 365–382.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Franke, G. H. (1995). SCL-90-R: die Symptom-Checkliste von Derogatis—Deutsche Version—Manual. Göttingen: Beltz Test.Google Scholar
  18. Gray, D., & Holden, W. (1992). Psycho-social well-being among the parents of children with autism. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 18(2), 83–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ha, J., Hong, J., Seltzer, M. M., & Greenberg, J. S. (2008). Age and gender differences in the well-being of midlife and aging parents with children with mental health or developmental problems: report of a national study. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 49, 301–316.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Harris, V. S., & McHale, S. M. (1989). Family life problems, daily caregiving activities and the psychological wellbeing of mothers of mentally retarded children. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 94, 231–239.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Hoffman, C. D., Sweeney, D. P., Hodge, D., Lopez-Wagner, M. C., & Looney, L. (2009). Parenting stress and closeness: mothers of children with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 24, 178–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hoffman, C. D., Sweeney, D. P., Lopez-Wagner, M., Hodge, D., Nam, C. Y., & Botts, B. H. (2008). Children with autism: sleep problems and mother’s stress. Focus on Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities, 23, 155–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Holmes, N., & Carr, J. (1991). The pattern of care in families of adults with a mental handicap: a comparison between families of autistic adults and Down syndrome adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 21, 159–176.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hourani, L. L., Williams, T. V., & Kress, A. M. (2006). Stress, mental health, and job performance among active duty military personnel: findings from the 2002 Department of Defense Health-Related behaviors Survey. Military Medicine, 171, 849–856.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Korn, S. J., Chess, S., & Fernandez, P. (1978). The impact of children’s physical handicaps on marital quality and family interactions. In R. M. Lerner & G. B. Spanier (Eds.), Child influences on marital and family interaction (pp. 299–326). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  26. Kwok, S., & Wong, D. (2000). Mental health of parents with young children in Hong Kong: the roles of parenting stress and parenting self-efficacy. Child & Family Social Work, 5, 57–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lee, G. K. (2009). Parents of children with high functioning autism: how well do they cope and adjust? Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 21, 93–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Maruish, M. E. (1999). Symptom Assessment-45 Questionnaire (SA-45). In M. E. Maruish (Ed.), The use of psychological testing for treatment planning and outcomes assessment (2nd ed., pp. 725–757). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  29. Mash, E. J., & Johnston, C. (1983). Parental perceptions of child behavior problems, parenting self-esteem, and mother’s reported stress in younger and older hyperactive and normal children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51, 86–99.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Micali, N., Chakrabarti, S., & Fombonne, E. (2004). The broad autism phenotype: findings from an epidemiological survey. Autism, 8, 21–37.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Montes, G., & Halterman, J. S. (2007). Psychological functioning and coping among mothers of children with autism: a population-based study. Pediatrics, 119, 1040–1046.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Narayan, S., Moyes, B., & Wolff, S. (1990). Family characteristics of autistic children a further report. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 20, 523–536.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 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
  34. Patterson, G. R. (1980). Mothers: the unacknowledged victims. Monographs of the Society for Research on Child Development, 45(5, serial no. 186) pp. 1–54.Google Scholar
  35. Patzold, L., Richdale, A. L., & Tonge, B. (1998). An investigation into sleep characteristics of children with autism and Asperger’s disorder. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, 34, 528–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Piven, J. (1999). Genetic liability for autism: the behavioral expression in relatives. International Review of Psychiatry, 11, 299–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Piven, J., Chase, G. A., Landa, R., Wzorek, M., Gayle, J., Cloud, D., et al. (1991). Psychiatric disorders in the parents of autistic individuals. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30, 471–478.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Piven, J., Gayle, J., Chase, G. A., Find, B., Landa, R., Wzorek, M. M., et al. (1990). A family history study of neuropsychiatric disorders in the adult siblings of autistic individuals. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 29, 177–188. 7 authorsGoogle Scholar
  39. Piven, J., & Palmer, P. (1999). Psychiatric disorder and the broad autism phenotype: evidence from a family study of multiple-incidence autism families. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 557–563.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Sharpley, C., Bitsika, V., & Efremidis, B. (1997). Influence of gender, parental health, and perceived expertise of assistance upon stress, anxiety, and depression among parents of children with autism. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 22(1), 19–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Smalley, S. L., McCracken, J., & Tanguay, P. (1995). Autism, affective disorders, and social phobia. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 60, 19–26.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Strategic Advantage, Inc. (1998). Symptom Assessment-45 Questionnaire (SA-45) Technical Manual. Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.Google Scholar
  43. Tobing, L. E., & Glenwick, D. S. (2002). Relation of the childhood autism rating scale-parent version to diagnosis, stress, and age. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 23, 211–223.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tomanik, S., Harris, G. E., & Hawkins, J. (2004). The relationship between behaviours exhibited by children with autism and maternal stress. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 29, 16–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Viswesvaran, C. (2001). Symptom Assessment-45 Questionnaire. In I. B. S. Plake (Ed.), The fourteenth mental measurements yearbook (pp. 1209–1211). Lincoln: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements.Google Scholar
  46. Willoughby, J. C., & Glidden, L. M. (1995). Fathers helping out: shared child care and marital satisfaction of parents of children with disabilities. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 99, 399–406.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Wolf, L. C., Noh, S., Fisman, S. N., & Speechley, M. (1989). Brief report: psychological effects of parenting stress on parents of autistic children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 19(1), 157–166.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wolff, S., Narayan, S., & Moyes, B. (1988). Personality characteristics of parents of autistic children: a controlled study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 29, 143–153.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yirmiya, N., & Shaked, M. (2005). Psychiatric disorders in parents of children with autism: a meta-analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 69–83.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danelle Hodge
    • 1
    Email author
  • Charles D. Hoffman
    • 1
  • Dwight P. Sweeney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State University, San BernardinoSan BernardinoUSA

Personalised recommendations