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Optimism, Social Support, and Well-Being in Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

This study used structural equation modeling to examine the relationship between multiple sources of social support (e.g., partner, family, and friends), optimism, and well-being among mothers of children with ASD. Social support was examined as a mediator and moderator of the optimism-maternal well-being relationship. Moreover, the role of optimism as a mediator of the social support-maternal well-being relationship was also evaluated. Results revealed that family support was associated with increased optimism that, in turn, predicted higher levels of positive maternal outcomes and lower levels of negative maternal outcomes. In addition, partner and friend support were directly associated with maternal outcomes. Implications for the development of interventions directed at increasing the quality of social support networks are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

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 are indebted to Cindy Bergeman and Anthony Ong for their help in the development of this project.

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Correspondence to Naomi V. Ekas.

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Ekas, N.V., Lickenbrock, D.M. & Whitman, T.L. Optimism, Social Support, and Well-Being in Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 40, 1274–1284 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-0986-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-0986-y

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Social support
  • Optimism
  • Mediation
  • Psychological well-being