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Journal of Child and Family Studies

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Parents of youth with neurodevelopmental disorders experience unique stressors in family functioning when compared to parents of neurotypical youth. A paucity of research, however, has examined differences in parenting experiences across families of youth with varying neurodevelopmental disorder presentations. This paper focuses on two common and frequently co-occurring conditions: autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In this study, we compared parenting stress, parenting efficacy, and the household context across a sample of 90 mothers of adolescents ages 11–16 years with (1) autism, (2) ADHD, or (3) autism and clinically-elevated ADHD symptoms (Autism + ADHD). Our findings demonstrated differences in all three domains of family functioning across these diagnostic groups. Mothers of adolescents in the Autism + ADHD group endorsed greater stress than mothers of adolescents in the Autism alone group. Parenting efficacy and the household context were poorest (i.e., low efficacy and high chaos) among mothers of adolescents with ADHD and significantly greater than in the Autism alone group. Given our results, we highlight the importance of accounting for co-occurring symptomatology in these populations in research and clinical practice. This will help to accurately capture unique needs of the family system and make appropriate treatment recommendations that leverage families’ strengths and are sensitive to family stressors.


Accepted version. Journal of Child and Family Studies, Vol. 31, No. 3 (March 2022): 774-789. DOI. © 2022 Springer. Used with permission.

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