parenting, depression, early intervention, developmental disabilities, parental distress, family resources


Children with developmental disabilities require extensive parental involvement in intervention, but parents with depression may be less able to intervene effectively. We examined prevalence of depression symptoms and predictors among 131 mothers of children with disabilities enrolled in early childhood special education. Participants completed several self-report measures of depression and child and family functioning. Children were directly evaluated using the Battelle Developmental Inventory. One year later, 68 mothers repeated self-report measures. Participants (30%) reported elevated depression symptoms across time. Depression scores were correlated with parental stress and family resources. An interaction between higher maternal depression and higher child functioning with lower family resources was found across time. When family financial resources are strained, mothers of children with moderate developmental disabilities may have higher risk for depression symptoms than when the child has severe disabilities. Results suggest that early childhood professionals should not overlook financial and mental health supports for mothers whose children have moderate disabilities.

Original Publication Citation

Smith, T. B., & Gabrielsen, T. P. (2022). Maternal depression moderated by family resources when children have developmental disabilities. Journal of Early Childhood Education Research, 11(2), 99-120.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Early Childhood Education Association Finland




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor