Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Barbara J. Myers


This study looked at the level of stress experienced by parents (N = 280) of children with an autism spectrum disorder (Autism, n = 134; Asperger's disorder, n = 36; & PDD-NOS, n = 42) or with Down syndrome (n = 68) as it related to child's impairment and to the process of choosing and providing treatments. Using the new Family Access to Disability Services (FADS) measure, it was discovered that parents of children with an autism spectrum diagnosis had more difficulty in accessing and providing the treatments they wanted for their children. Higher FADS scores predicted parenting stress, even when first controlling for family income, child's impairment level, and diagnosis. Child's impairment was the strongest predictor of parent stress, with social and behavioral impairments being especially salient. Children (mean age = 8.6) were currently enrolled in an average of 5.4 treatments and parents had tried nearly 10 interventions. The total number of treatments tried did not relate to measures of parenting stress.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Psychology Commons