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Social Support and Well-being at Mid-Life Among Mothers of Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Abstract

The present study investigated the impact of social support on the psychological well-being of mothers of adolescents and adults with ASD (n = 269). Quantity of support (number of social network members) as well as valence of support (positive support and negative support) were assessed using a modified version of the “convoy model” developed by Antonucci and Akiyama (1987). Having a larger social network was associated with improvements in maternal well-being over an 18-month period. Higher levels of negative support as well as increases in negative support over the study period were associated with increases in depressive symptoms and negative affect and decreases in positive affect. Social support predicted changes in well-being above and beyond the impact of child behavior problems. Implications for clinical practice are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging to support longitudinal research on families of adolescents and adults with autism (R01 AG08768, M. M. Seltzer, PI). We are extremely grateful to the families who participated in this study; without their generous support and commitment, our research would not be possible. We are also grateful for the support we received from the Waisman Center (P30 HD03352, M.M. Seltzer, PI).

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Correspondence to Leann E. Smith.

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Smith, L.E., Greenberg, J.S. & Seltzer, M.M. Social Support and Well-being at Mid-Life Among Mothers of Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 42, 1818–1826 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-011-1420-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-011-1420-9

Keywords

  • Social support
  • Mothers
  • Well-being
  • Adolescence
  • Adulthood