Table_1_Enhancement of Social Communication Behaviors in Young Children With Autism Affects Maternal Stress.DOCX
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show difficulties in social communication behaviors, emotion regulation and daily living skills, and they frequently present with challenging behaviors. In parents of children with ASD, higher rates of stress and mental health problems have been reported than in parents of either typically developing children or children with other conditions. In this study, we tested whether maternal well-being changes with improved social communicative behaviors of children with ASD receiving early intervention. We examined developmental changes in 72 pre-schoolers and stress levels in their mothers (measured by the Parental Stress Inventory) before and after a 12-month community-based intervention program based on the Early Start Denver Model, a naturalistic developmental behavioral intervention targeting social communication. Multiple regression analyses showed that maternal child-related stress was predicted by changes in children's social communication behaviors (measured with the Pervasive Developmental Disorder Behavior Inventory). Gains in the early social communication behavior domain were the strongest predictor of post-intervention child-related maternal stress, surpassing adaptive behavior, language and non-verbal cognitive gains, and reduction in challenging behavior. These findings support the hypothesis that, in children with ASD, the acquisition of social communication behaviors contribute to improvements in maternal well-being.