autism spectrum disorders, marital quality, respite, social support, stress, mothers and fathers


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 one-hour 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.

Original Publication Citation

Respite care, marital quality, and stress in parents of children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1812-0

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor