Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Barbara J. Myers


n often ignored aspect of parenting and family work is the responsibility-related caregiving (i.e. the monitoring, arranging, and planning) that is done to ensure that a child is cared for. Among fathers and mothers who have a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the intensity of meeting these needs is greater than for a typically developing child (e.g. additional coordination of schooling, interventions, healthcare, recreation, respite, and after-school services). As is the case for all parents, they must also attend to the demands of household labor (e.g. car maintenance, groceries, laundry, yard care), nurture their relationships (e.g. partner, friends, other family members) and find time to pursue interests outside of the home. The aim of this study was to examine parents’ management of and satisfaction with the division of responsibility-related caregiving and household labor, parenting stress, the couple’s relationship quality, and family functioning among parents of children with an ASD. Fathers (n = 66) and mothers (n = 104) of school-age children with an ASD responded to an online questionnaire. Most parents (mean 41.4 y.) were white (95%) and well-educated (98% had at least some college). All lived in the United States with the child and the child’s other parent. Parents provided information about their child (82% boys, mean 8.8 y.), including level of functioning. Fathers managed less responsibility-related caregiving than mothers, but they did not differ in their management of household labor. Parents were most satisfied with how the family work was shared when they managed less of it; however, when one parent always managed the work, satisfaction with the couple’s relationship was lowest and parenting stress was highest. Satisfaction with how the family work was shared was positively associated with overall family functioning. In general, parents, couples, and families fare better when the management of family work is shared between parents. Findings will further our understanding of the experience of fathers and mothers who have a child with an ASD, and may aid in our efforts to best support families affected by the autism spectrum disorders.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2014

Included in

Psychology Commons