Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are at risk for having higher stress and lower marital quality than other parents. Survey data regarding respite care, marital quality, and daily hassles and uplifts were obtained from 101 mother-father dyads who were together raising at least one child with ASD (total # of children = 118). Number of hours of respite care was positively related to improved marital quality for both husbands and wives, such that a 1-h increase in weekly respite care was associated with a one-half standard deviation increase in marital quality. This relationship was significantly mediated by perceived daily stresses and uplifts in both husbands and wives. More respite care was associated with increased uplifts and reduced stress; increased uplifts were associated with improved marital quality; and more stress was associated with reduced marital quality. The number of children in the family was associated with greater stress, and reduced relational quality and daily uplifts. Results suggest policymakers and practitioners should develop supports for providing respite for families raising children with ASD.
From the article:
The findings of this study are relevant for policymakers, practitioners, and families of children with ASD. Policies that encourage broad accessibility of flexible, responsive, and compassionate respite care are warranted (Oliver and Mossialos 2004; Sawyer et al. 2010). Such policies should ensure equality of access to care regardless of the specific diagnosis, age, or behavioral challenges of the child or the socio-economic status, geographic location, or awareness of respite care availability of the family (Doig et al. 2009; Oliver and Mossialos 2004). Many parents are unaware of the options available. As one parent stated in a previous
study (Dillenburger et al. 2010, p. 18): ‘‘If we don’t know the questions to ask [about available services], then we don’t get any answers. Social services should be called secret services.’’ Targeting widespread media attention to the availability of respite care is recommended. [emphasis added]
Dillenburger, K., Keenan, M., Doherty, A., Byrne, T., & Gallagher, S. (2010). Living with children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder: Parental and professional views. British Journal of Special Education, 37, 13–23.
Doig, J. L., McLennan, J. D., & Urichuk, L. (2009). ‘Jumping through hoops’: Parents’ experiences with seeking respite care for children with special needs. Child: Care Health and Development, 35, 234–242.
Oliver, A., & Mossialos, E. (2004). Equity of access to health care: Outlining the foundations for action. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 58, 655–658.
Sawyer, M. G., Bittman, M., La Greca, A. M., Crettenden, A. D., Harchak, T. F., & Martin, J. (2010). Time demands of caring for children with autism: What are the implications for maternal mental health? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 620–628.