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Parenting adolescents with ASD: A multimethod study.

Autism Res. 2018 May 15;:

Authors: van Esch L, Vanmarcke S, Ceulemans E, Van Leeuwen K, Noens I

Abstract
A number of studies have concluded that parents of children with ASD experience high levels of parenting stress. However, little is known about their parenting behaviors. Especially few studies investigated parenting in adolescence, although this period is associated with additional challenges for both adolescents and their parents. In the present study, a multi-method approach was used, combining data from a self-report questionnaire and observation of mother-child interactions during different semi-structured (e.g., inventing and building a vehicle of the future with construction toys) and structured tasks (e.g., solving marble maze). Linear mixed models (LMM) were used to compare the means of parenting behaviors among mothers of adolescents with (n = 44) and without ASD (n = 38), aged 12 to 16 years old. During the observations, mothers of adolescents with ASD showed more sensitivity and creativity, compared to the general population control group. In addition, mothers in the ASD group reported on the self-report questionnaire to adapt the environment more, for example, by establishing routines. Furthermore, this study investigated the role of maternal characteristics, that is, ASD characteristics and parenting stress. Parenting stress was associated with less self-reported positive parenting. Higher levels of ASD characteristics of the mother were related to more negativity and less sensitivity during the observation, and more self-reported harsh punishment and adapting the environment. This study additionally examined whether the impact of these maternal characteristics was the same across the two groups. Whereas group by parenting stress interaction effects were not significant for any of the observed and self-reported parenting behaviors, significant group by ASD characteristics interaction effects were noticed for self-reported harsh punishment and adapting the environment. Autism Res 2018. © 2018 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
LAY SUMMARY: A number of studies have concluded that parents of children with ASD experience high levels of parenting stress. However, little is known about their parenting behaviors. Especially parenting in adolescence remains under investigated, although this period is associated with additional challenges for both adolescents and their parents. In this study, 44 adolescents with ASD and a control group of 38 adolescents without ASD, aged 12-16 years old, participated together with their mother. We compared parenting behaviors between the two groups, based on observations of mother-child interactions and a questionnaire that was filled out by the mother. During the observation, mothers of adolescents with ASD showed more sensitivity and creativity, compared to the control group. In addition, the questionnaire responses indicated that mothers in the ASD group adapted the environment more by for example, establishing routines. Furthermore, this study investigated the role of parenting stress and ASD characteristics of the mother on parenting behavior. Parenting stress was associated with less self-reported positive parenting. Higher levels of ASD characteristics of the mother were related to more negativity and less sensitivity during the observation in both groups, and more self-reported harsh punishment and adapting the environment in the control group only.

PMID: 29761854 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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