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

Related Stories

Intervention for NICU moms reduces their trauma, anxiety

date 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

Some children lose autism diagnosis but still struggle

date 11 hours ago

About one in 14 toddlers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) no longer met the diagnostic criteria in elementary school, but most continued to have emotional/behavior symptoms and required special ...

Can a parent's concerns predict autism?

date Apr 23, 2015

As co-director of the University of Alberta's Autism Research Centre, Lonnie Zwaigenbaum has devoted much of his career to understanding how to identify autism as early as possible. But despite his years ...

Home-based treatment of autism

date Apr 22, 2015

Much can still be done to improve autism treatment besides finding a cure. The MICHELANGELO project, which ended in March, has developed a set of technologies for personalised, home-based behaviour monitoring and treatment ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.