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Family functioning and behaviour problems in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The mediating role of parent mental health

journal contribution
posted on 2022-10-28, 01:28 authored by R Jellett, C E Wood, Rebecca GialloRebecca Giallo, M Seymour
Background Parents of young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are often relied on to help implement therapy with their child, which occurs within a family context. Therefore, it is important to understand and support families where there is a child with an ASD. Although individual parent factors have received substantial research attention, fewer studies have investigated family functioning. This study explored the relationship between child behaviour problems and family functioning in families where there was a preschooler with an ASD. Parent mental health difficulties, including stress, fatigue, and depressive symptoms, were investigated as mediators in this relationship. Method Participants included 97 parents with a preschooler diagnosed with an ASD. Parents completed an online questionnaire reporting on child behaviour problems, their own symptoms of stress, depression and fatigue, and family functioning. Results Path analysis showed that the relationship between child behaviour problems and family functioning was mediated by depressive symptoms, but not stress and fatigue. Conclusions These results highlighted one way that ASDs can impact on the family system, suggesting that when parents are overburdened by behaviour problems, there are implications for the family. The importance of providing clinical interventions and support to strengthen parent mental health and family functioning is discussed.



Clinical Psychologist




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