Comparison of parental stress among mothers and fathers of children with autistic spectrum disorder in Iran

Atefeh Soltanifar, Farzad Akbarzadeh, Fatemeh Moharreri, Azadeh Soltanifar, Alireza Ebrahimi, Naghmeh Mokhber, Ali Minoocherhr, Syed Shojut Ali Naqvi



Background: Most of the studies about parenting stress among parents of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) have been conducted in western societies. The objective of this research, conducted in Iran, is to evaluate the parenting stress among fathers and mothers of children with ASD and fi nd the correlation between severity of the disorder in children and the level of parental stress.

Materials and Methods: Participants included 42 couples having children aged between 2 and 12 diagnosed with ASD based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) criteria. The diagnosis was made by two child and adolescent psychiatrists. Demographic information of the participants was collected using a questionnaire. The severity of pervasive developmental disorder in children was determined based on Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS); stress of parents was measured using Parenting Stress Index (PSI). Collected information was analyzed by the SPSS (version 16) software.

Results: Evaluation of subscales in participants’ data showed a positive correlation coeffi cient between the PSI-parent domain and Childhood Autism Rating Scale-Parent form CARS-P rating (r = 0.339, P = 0.028) and also between the total stress index and CARS-P rating (r = 0.333, P = 0.031) for fathers. It is thus suggested that fathers of children with more severe developmental disorders experience more stress. The results showed signifi cant differences between fathers and mothers in the three PSI subscales including PSI-child domain score (P < 0.005), PSI-parent domain score (P < 0.005), and the total stress index (P < 0.005 ). Mothers had signifi cantly more stress than fathers .

Conclusions: These fi ndings show that parents with ASD children have many emotional needs which should be considered in planning the effective treatment strategies for their children.

Key words: Autism spectrum disorder, fathers, mothers, parental stress, pervasive developmental disorder s

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