Lack of Father Involvement in Research on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Maternal Parenting Stress and Family Functioning

Document Type




Format of Original

9 p.

Publication Date



Informa Healthcare

Source Publication

Issues in Mental Health Nursing

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.3109/01612840.2012.745177


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has an estimated prevalence of greater than 1% of people in the US. Caring for children with ASD is stressful and challenging for parents. The purpose of the study is to understand the ramifications of the findings of a spouse/father's lack of participation for a study focused on stress and family functioning that attempted to recruit both parents of a child with ASD. The Kruskal-Wallis test compared medians of three groups of mothers of children with ASD in order to assess differences in parenting stress and family functioning discrepancy depending on their marital status and spouse survey participation. There were differences across the groups of mothers of children with ASD for the discrepancy in expectations for help, from the participants’ spouse or relatives, with family tasks, meeting the demands of other work responsibilities, child care, challenging behaviors, and school absences. Mothers of children with ASD are at risk for isolation and stress from negotiating family functions with the fathers of the children. Health care providers can assess for stress and family functioning and may anticipate different needs based on marital status and by father's involvement in decision-making.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder of communication, behavior, and socialization, with typical onset occurring before three years of age (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Four times more common in boys than girls, the prevalence of ASD is increasing and is now estimated to be 1/88 people (>1% of the US population) (Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Principal Investigators, 2012). Persons with ASDs present with a range in severity of symptoms with the cause thought to be a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors (Hallmayer et al., 2011; Rutter, 2005). Although ASD is not curable, there are several treatment options with a range of evidence to support them (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], 2011).


Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Vol. 34, No. 4 (April 2013): 220-228. DOI.