Relationships and predictions of marital quality and stress among African American parents of children with and without autism spectrum disorder
Martin, Sharese M.
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the most rapidly growing childhood disability in America, affects people of all ethnicities, social classes, and genders. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) not only impacts the person who is diagnosed, but the entire family system. For instance, parenting a child with ASD has been linked with elevated parental stress and decreased marital quality. Although ASD awareness has recently increased, research is lacking in non-dominant populations such as African Americans. This study addresses the gaps in literature pertaining to African American parents of children with ASD. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships and predictions of marital quality and stress among African American parents of children with and without ASD. Pearson’s chi-squares, Fisher’s exact tests, and binary logistic regressions were employed as statistical analyses for investigating the data from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) (CAHMI, 2012c). According to the findings, a statistically significant relationship occurred in divorce rates between 65,115 Caucasian parents of children with and without ASD. However, there was not a statistically significant relationship in divorce rates between the 7,085 African American parents of children with and without ASD. Likewise, results indicated no statistical significant relationships existed between 3,548 married African American parents of children with and without ASD and marital quality. Findings also revealed no statistical significant relationship among 48 African American parents of children with ASD, children’s levels of ASD severity, and parents’ marital quality. Parent-related and child-related stressors were used to predict membership of parents with children and without ASD. Using logistic regression analysis with 693 participants, the largest statistically significant predictors for having a child with ASD were child-related stressors including (a) increased needs and demands and (b) child’s problems. The next largest statistically significant predictors for a parent having a child with ASD (n = 3,587) were parent-related stressors including (a) coping and perceived challenges and (b) health care access and quality. Limitations of the current study, clinical implications, and directions for future research were discussed.