University of Leicester
U135588.pdf (4.25 MB)

Parenting a child with autism : mothers' and fathers' experiences, with regard to stress, perception of child attachment and coping style

Download (4.25 MB)
posted on 2014-12-15, 10:46 authored by Liz. Hart
Experiences of mothers and fathers with regard to stress, perceptions of child attachment and parental coping style were investigated in a study comparing 44 parents of children with autism and 32 parents of children with other learning disabilities. Both mothers and fathers of children with autism reported significantly more parenting stress and significantly lower perceived attachment from their child, than parents of children with other learning disabilities. These results highlight the autistic child's lack of emotional reciprocity as a source of potential parental stress for both mothers and fathers.;Parents of children with autism were also found to perceive parenting as more difficult than parents of children with learning disabilities, with mothers carrying significantly more parenting burden. Mothers were found to make greater use than fathers of social support as a coping strategy; it is suggested that this difference may explain the absence of a gender effect for psychological outcome despite the greater burden carried by mothers.;Areas of future research are identified. Among these, it is recommended that larger scale research be employed to investigate possible factors associated with both positive and negative outcomes of parenting an autistic child.;Limitations of the study are also addressed, including associated problems with sample size. Clinical implications of the results, in reference to the literature, are discussed including the recognition of perception of lack of child attachment as a parental stressor. Clinical services are encouraged to consider the needs of both parents, and to recognise the important, though understated, role of fathers.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Clinical Psychology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



Usage metrics

    University of Leicester Theses


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager