Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 1645–1658 | Cite as

Daily Couple Experiences and Parent Affect in Families of Children with Versus Without Autism

  • Sigan L. HartleyEmail author
  • Leann Smith DaWalt
  • Haley M. Schultz
Original Paper


We examined daily couple experiences in 174 couples who had a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) relative to 179 couples who had a child without disabilities and their same-day association with parent affect. Parents completed a 14-day daily diary in which they reported time with partner, partner support, partner closeness, and positive and negative couple interactions and level of positive and negative affect. One-way multivariate analyses of covariance and dyadic multilevel models were conducted. Parents of children with ASD reported less time with partner, lower partner closeness, and fewer positive couple interactions than the comparison group. Daily couple experiences were more strongly associated with parent affect in the ASD than comparison group. Findings have implications for programs and supports.


Autism Parent Couple Marital Daily Diary 



This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH009190 to S. Hartley) and Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P30 HD03352 to A. Messing).

Author contributions

All authors contributed sufficiently to the scientific work. SLH concieved of the study and prepared the manuscript, LSD contributed to analyses and writing, and HMS assisted in conducting the study and also contributed to writing.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Authors Hartley, Smith, and Schultz declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures in studies involving human participants were in accordance with ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

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


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sigan L. Hartley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leann Smith DaWalt
    • 2
  • Haley M. Schultz
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family Studies and Waisman CenterUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Waisman CenterUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Educational Psychology and Waisman CenterUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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