Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Well-being of Parents, and Emotional & Physiological Responses to Infant Crying

Ozturk, Yagmur (2015) Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Well-being of Parents, and Emotional & Physiological Responses to Infant Crying. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

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Abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by difficulties in social communication and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior and interests (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). These key characteristics of autism each create a number of difficulties for individuals with autism and also their parents. It is well established that parenting a child with ASD is stressful, impacting on mental health and overall quality of life (Baker-Ericzn, Brookman-Frazee, & Stahmer, 2005; Davis & Carter, 2008; Eisenhower, Baker, & Blacher, 2005; McStay, Dissanayake, Scheeren, Koot, & Begeer, 2013). However, there are some doubts or gaps in the literature of parenting children with ASD which we addressed in this thesis. Two main goals of this thesis were: a) examining well-being of parents of children with ASD, b) focusing on the parents’ responses to cries of infants with ASD and typical development, considering two types of responses: emotional and physiological. Therefore, this thesis is composed of two parts. The first part in which we aimed to examine well-being of parents of children with ASD has been divided into two sections. The first one dealt with similarities and differences between mothers and fathers in terms of parenting stress, parental mental health and attitude (Chapter 2). Results indicated that mothers of children with ASD reported higher level of depression than fathers and considerable percentages of both mothers and fathers had scores above the clinical cut-points of stress showing that they experience clinically significant levels of parenting stress. Moreover, in terms of parental attitude, mothers engaged with their children in more social exchange than fathers do. 8 The final chapter in Part 1 (Chapter 3) evaluated whether maternal well-being and sense of competence are affected by the outcomes of children receiving intervention. The results suggested that child and family factors, including mothers’ age, were linked to maternal well-being. However treatment-related changes in children’s communication, and parenting satisfaction contributed to well-being above and beyond other factors. A mediation analysis indicated that mothers whose children make treatment gains in communication skills experience a reduction in their level of negative well-being as a consequence of increased parental sense of competence with regards to parenting satisfaction. The second part of the thesis aimed to evaluate emotional and physiological responses of parents of children with ASD during infant crying. This part begins by laying out the theoretical dimensions of the research, and then proceeds as follows: a) the first experiment was concerned with the preparation and validation the cry episodes as unpleasant acoustic stimuli (Chapter 4); b) the second one examined emotional and physiological responses of non-parents adults while listening of infant crying (Chapter 5); c) the last experiment focused on parents of children with ASD and parents of typically developing children, examining their emotional and physiological responses during the listening of crying of children with ASD and of typically developing (TD) children (Chapter 6). Findings from Chapter 4 indicated that all cry episodes, regardless of the types (e.g., cries of children with ASD or cries of typically developing children) were perceived as unpleasant by non-parents adults. The following study in Chapter 5 showed that cries of children with ASD (ASD cry) were reported more stressed, aroused and less pleasant compare to cries of typically developing children (TD cry) by non-parents adults; however, similar pattern was not seen in the physiological responses of listeners. Results 9 from the final experiment (Chapter 6) showed that parents of children with ASD and parents of TD children were not differentiated in their self-reports of stress, arousal and valence levels for ASD cry and TD cry. However, their physiological responses showed that parents of children with ASD have higher heart rate than parents of TD children during ASD cry and TD cry. Moreover, the analysis on the comparisons between ASD cry and TD cry suggested both parents perceived ASD cry more stressful, aroused and less pleasant, but physiological responses of parents of children with ASD did not show the differences between ASD cry and TD cry. The overall structure of the thesis takes the form of seven chapters, including a general introduction (Chapter 1). The importance of those findings for future theoretical and clinical work is considered in detail in the end of related chapters and in the general discussion chapter (Chapter 7).

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Psychological Sciences and Education
PhD Cycle:28
Subjects:Area 11 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche > M-PSI/08 PSICOLOGIA CLINICA
Area 11 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche > M-PSI/01 PSICOLOGIA GENERALE
Area 11 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche > M-PSI/04 PSICOLOGIA DELLO SVILUPPO E PSICOLOGIA DELL'EDUCAZIONE
Uncontrolled Keywords:parentings; autism; stress; depression; infant cry; physiological responses
Repository Staff approval on:11 Dec 2015 09:51

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