Problem-solving education reduces parental stress after child autism diagnosis

A cognitive-behavioral intervention known as problem-solving education (PSE) may help reduce parental stress and depressive symptoms immediately after their child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a study by Emily Feinberg, CPNP, Sc.D., of Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues.

Mothers of children with ASD consistently report high levels of parental stress, depressive symptoms, and social isolation, according to the study background. This psychological distress suggests a need for interventions that specifically address parental mental health after a child's diagnosis.

Researchers conducted a clinical trial in an autism clinic and six community-based early intervention programs with 122 mothers of young children (under 6 years) who recently received a diagnosis of ASD. Fifty-nine mothers received six sessions of PSE (structured problem-solving) and 63 mothers received usual care (behavioral methods). Parental stress and maternal depressive symptoms were then measured after three months of treatment.

According to study results, a lower proportion of PSE mothers, compared to usual care mothers, had (3.8 percent vs. 29.3 percent, respectively). PSE mothers were also less likely to report than the other group, but the difference was not statistically significant.

"Future analyses will examine the effect of intervention over a longer follow-up period and allow us to assess whether the intervention worked differently among subgroups of mothers, which is knowledge that could help us better target those most likely to benefit from the intervention," the authors conclude.

More information: JAMA Pediatr. Published online November 11, 2013. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.3445

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Intervention for NICU moms reduces their trauma, anxiety

Sep 05, 2013

(HealthDay)—An intervention aimed at reducing parental trauma and redefining the parental experience for those with very premature newborns is both feasible and cost-effective, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

A link between Jacobsen syndrome and autism

Sep 15, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—A rare genetic disorder known as Jacobsen syndrome has been linked with autism, according to a recent joint investigation by researchers at San Diego State University and the University ...

Sex hormones may play a part in autism

Sep 08, 2014

Higher rates of Autism Spectrum Disorders in males than females may be related to changes in the brain's estrogen signalling, according to research published in the open access journal Molecular Autism.

Planning a better future for people with autism

Aug 27, 2014

In the world of special education, transition is the move from school to adult life. For most of us that move can be awkward, but for people with disabilities—particularly autism—it is especially complex.

User comments