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Are child autism symptoms, developmental level and adaptive function associated with caregiver feelings of wellbeing and efficacy in the parenting role?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Heather MooreORCiD


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© 2021 Elsevier LtdBackground: Many parents of children with autism have low levels of mental wellbeing, which may be related to low self-efficacy in the parenting role. Few studies have investigated the impact that child characteristics such as autism symptoms, development and functioning have on parental wellbeing and self-efficacy. In this study, we investigated associations between parental mental wellbeing, self-efficacy and child measures of behaviour and function, for families participating in the Paediatric Autism Communication Trial-Generalised (PACT-G). Method: Parents of children with autism (N = 248, aged 2–11 years) completed self-report measures of mental wellbeing and self-efficacy. We used a range of parent-report and researcher administered assessments of autism symptoms, child development, emotional and behavioural difficulties, language and adaptive skills. Nonparametric tests (Spearman's correlations) and multiple linear regression analyses were used to examine the associations between child characteristics and parent wellbeing and parental self-efficacy. Results: Parent mental wellbeing and self-efficacy were highly related. Results of bivariate analyses showed significant negative associations between parent-reported child autism symptoms and parental self-efficacy. Higher child adaptive behaviour was also associated with better parental-self-efficacy. However, in a multivariate regression model, only high parent reported autism symptoms were associated with lower parental self-efficacy. Parent wellbeing was not related to any feature of the child's profile. Conclusion: These findings indicate that parent-reported autism symptoms are associated with parental self-efficacy, and that self-efficacy may be an important secondary outcome of interventions for children with autism.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Taylor LJ, Luk SYL, Leadbitter K, Moore HL, Charman T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Year: 2021

Volume: 83

Print publication date: 01/05/2021

Online publication date: 22/03/2021

Acceptance date: 27/01/2021

ISSN (print): 1750-9467

ISSN (electronic): 1878-0237

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2021.101738


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