The Role of Child Problem Behaviors in Autism Spectrum Symptoms and Parenting Stress: A Primary School-Based Study

Abstract

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) reported higher stress than those of typically developing children. The role of child problem behaviors in the relationship between autism spectrum symptoms and parenting stress is little known. A total of 731 parents of 177 children with ASD and 554 typically developing children in primary schools (6–11 years old) completed an ASD screening survey containing measures of parenting stress and child problem behaviors. While autism spectrum symptoms were positively associated with parenting stress, the relationship was mediated by child problem behaviors. Results suggest neither the severity of autism spectrum symptoms nor knowledge of ASD diagnosis was a primary source of parenting stress. A hypothesized path model was tested using structural equation modeling.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank the study participants and teachers who helped us to conduct the survey. We also like to thank other co-investigators of the study who provided valuable comments on study design and data analysis. This research was supported by the Health and Medical Research Fund, Food and Health Bureau, Hong Kong SAR.

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HY, QS, DC conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination. HY, QS, DC performed data collection and management. HY, QS, RC, FC conducted data analysis and drafted the manuscript. WM provided critical comments on the interpretation of the findings and discussion. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Huso Yi.

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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.

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

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Siu, Q.K.Y., Yi, H., Chan, R.C.H. et al. The Role of Child Problem Behaviors in Autism Spectrum Symptoms and Parenting Stress: A Primary School-Based Study. J Autism Dev Disord 49, 857–870 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3791-7

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum symptoms
  • Child problem behaviors
  • Parenting stress
  • Mediation analysis
  • Hong Kong