Category: Autism Spectrum and Developmental Disorders
Research has suggested that siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be at greater risk for deficits in adaptive behavior (Hastings, 2003). Additionally, parenting a child with ASD has been linked to significant levels of parental distress (Karst & Van Hecke, 2012), which can lead to lower parenting efficacy (Ekas, Lickenbrock, & Whitman, 2010) and poor parenting practices (Goodman et al., 2011). Whereas poor parenting practices have been associated with lower levels of adaptive behaviors in children (Prevatt, 2003), more research is needed to better understand this relation in TD siblings, who are already at risk for behavioral problems. This study examined how parental distress indirectly affects TD sibling behavior through both parenting efficacy and parenting behaviors.
For this study, 72 caregivers of a child with ASD and at least one TD sibling provided data via online questionnaires. Caregivers were ages 24 to 53 years (M = 35.5, SD = 6.0; 91.7% female, 87.5% White). TD siblings were ages 1 to 21 years (M = 6.9, SD = 4.7; 41.7% female). Caregivers completed: Behavior Assessment System for Children-3 (Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2015) assessing child behavior, Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995) assessing caregiver distress, Parenting Sense of Competence Scale (Gibaud-Wallston & Wandersman, 1978; Johnston & Mash, 1989) assessing parent efficacy, and Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (Shelton, Frick, & Wootton, 1996) assessing parenting behaviors.
Serial mediation models using PROCESS (Hayes, 2013) were examined. TD sibling adaptive behavior was entered as the criterion variable, caregiver distress as the predictor, and parenting efficacy and parenting behavior (positive and negative behaviors, analyzed separately) as serial mediators. Results from the first model indicated that caregiver distress predicted parenting efficacy, b = -.52, (95%CI -.94, -.09), but not positive parenting behaviors, b = .07, (95%CI -.17, .31). However, parenting efficacy did predict positive parenting behaviors, b = .19, (95%CI .06, .32), which subsequently relate to higher levels of adaptive behavior in TD siblings, b = .44, (95%CI .21, .66). There was a significant indirect effect of caregiver distress on adaptive behavior through the two mediators, b = -.04, (95%CI -.11, -.01). Results from the second model were similar, with caregiver distress predicting parenting efficacy, b = -.52, (95%CI -.94, -.09), but not negative parenting behaviors, b = -.10, (95%CI -.37, .18). Parenting efficacy did predict negative parenting behaviors, b = -.18, (95%CI -.32, -.03), which subsequently relate to lower levels of adaptive behavior in TD siblings, b = -.23, (95%CI -.44, -.01). There was a significant indirect effect of caregiver distress on adaptive behavior through the two mediators, b = -.02, (95%CI -.08, -.002). Study results indicated an indirect relation from caregiver distress to adaptive behaviors through both parenting efficacy and parenting behaviors for TD siblings of a child with ASD. Study implications and intervention recommendations will be discussed.