Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Chi-Ming Chen, Rhiannon Smith

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


The current study drew on the Double ABCX model of stress to explore the relationship between parenting stress in parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and factors contributing to heightened levels of stress. Specifically child characteristics, pile-up demands, external resources and parent perception were examined in cross-sectional samples of parents of children 2 (Time 1), 4 (Time 2) and 8 (Time 3) years of age. Additionally a comparison sample of parents of 2 year olds with a developmental delay (DD), and two longitudinal subsamples (2-4 and 4-8) were utilized. Prior to the child’s diagnosis (Time 1), parenting stress was associated with the parent’s perceptions, specifically concerns about the child’s development. In the comparison DD sample, parenting stress was most related to social support. Changes in parenting stress over time were found to be associated with changes in adaptive skills, specifically parent-reported daily living and social skills. Contrary to hypotheses, social support was not found to be related to parenting stress at any time point in the ASD groups. Potential explanations for the varied contributors to parenting stress, as well as clinical implications are addressed.

Major Advisor

Marianne Barton