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Parent and family impact of autism spectrum disorders: a review and proposed model for intervention evaluation. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 2012 Sep;15(3):247-77



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84865424369 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   449 Citations


Raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be an overwhelming experience for parents and families. The pervasive and severe deficits often present in children with ASD are associated with a plethora of difficulties in caregivers, including decreased parenting efficacy, increased parenting stress, and an increase in mental and physical health problems compared with parents of both typically developing children and children with other developmental disorders. In addition to significant financial strain and time pressures, high rates of divorce and lower overall family well-being highlight the burden that having a child with an ASD can place on families. These parent and family effects reciprocally and negatively impact the diagnosed child and can even serve to diminish the positive effects of intervention. However, most interventions for ASD are evaluated only in terms of child outcomes, ignoring parent and family factors that may have an influence on both the immediate and long-term effects of therapy. It cannot be assumed that even significant improvements in the diagnosed child will ameliorate the parent and family distress already present, especially as the time and expense of intervention can add further family disruption. Thus, a new model of intervention evaluation is proposed, which incorporates these factors and better captures the transactional nature of these relationships.

Author List

Karst JS, Van Hecke AV


Jeffrey S. Karst PhD Associate Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Amy Van Hecke PhD Professor in the Psychology department at Marquette University

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Adaptation, Psychological
Behavior Therapy
Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
Family Relations
Parent-Child Relations
Self Efficacy
Sibling Relations
Social Support
Stress, Psychological