Parents of Children with ASD Experience More Psychological Distress, Parenting Stress, and Attachment-Related Anxiety

Belinda M. Keenan, Louise K. Newman, Kylie M. Gray, Nicole J. Rinehart

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45 Citations (Scopus)


There has been limited study of the relationship between child attachment and caregiver wellbeing amongst children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examined self-reported child attachment quality alongside caregivers’ report of their own psychological distress, parenting stress and attachment style, amongst 24 children with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s disorder (ASD; aged 7–14 years) and 24 typically developing children (aged 7–12 years), and their primary caregiver. Children with ASD were no less secure, but their caregivers were more stressed and reported more attachment-related anxiety, compared to typically developing dyads. Child attachment security was related to caregiver psychological distress and attachment style, but only amongst typically developing children. Impacts of emotion processing impairments on caregiver-child relationships in ASD are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2979-2991
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Attachment
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Middle childhood
  • Parenting stress

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