Examining the Links Between Challenging Behaviors in Youth with ASD and Parental Stress, Mental Health, and Involvement: Applying an Adaptation of the Family Stress Model to Families of Youth with ASD.

Schiltz HK1, McVey AJ2, Magnus B2, Dolan BK2,3, Willar KS2, Pleiss S2,4, Karst J2,5, Carson AM2,6, Caiozzo C2, Vogt E2, Van Hecke AV2.


Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) poses unique challenges that may impact parents’ mental health and parenting experiences. The current study analyzed self-report data from 77 parents of youth with ASD. A serial multiple mediation model revealed that parenting stress (SIPA) and parental mental health (BAI and BDI-II) appears to be impacted by challenging adolescent behaviors (SSIS-PBs) and, in turn, affect parental involvement (PRQ), controlling for social skills (SSIS-SSs). Further, the study explored the malleability of parents’ mental health over the course of a social skills intervention, and provides modest evidence that parent depressive symptoms decline across intervention. This study illustrates the importance of considering the entire family system in research on youth with ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder; Families; Parenting; Social skills intervention; Stress