Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 633–651 | Cite as

Neighborhoods, Family Functioning, and Mothers’ Mental Health for Families with a Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Andrew L. Whitehead


Mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) typically report lower overall family functioning and worse mental health. Neighborhood conditions are found to positively influence family functioning and mental health in the general population. Employing a process-person-context model, this study extends these literatures to examine whether various neighborhood conditions – both positive and negative – affect mothers’ mental health and the overall functioning of families with a child with an ASD. Simultaneous equation path analysis of a nationally representative sample of children in the US finds neighborhood support to be positively and significantly associated with mothers’ mental health and the overall functioning of families with a child with an ASD. However, neighborhood amenities and neighborhood deficiencies were not significantly associated with either mothers’ mental health or family functioning. Neighborhood support can play a vital role in improved subjective quality of life for mothers with a child on the autism spectrum.


Autism Neighborhoods Quality of life Mental health Mothers Children Family functioning United States 



The author would like to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript. Any errors or omissions remain the author’s alone. Special thanks as well to Kelly, Joel, and Theodore Whitehead for embodying hope and strength in the face of countless obstacles.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology & AnthropologyClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

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