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Am J Occup Ther. 2011 Nov-Dec;65(6):679-87.

Effects of a father-based in-home intervention on perceived stress and family dynamics in parents of children with autism.

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Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Florida, PO Box 100164, Gainesville, FL 32610-0164, USA.


Parents of children with autism report high rates of stress. Parental differences in stress are inconsistent, with most research indicating that mothers report higher levels of stress than fathers. We explored parental differences before and after an in-home training program. Fathers were taught an intervention designed to improve their child's social reciprocity and communication; they then trained mothers. Stress was assessed with the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form, and family dynamics was assessed with the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales II. Both mothers and fathers reported high preintervention levels of stress. After intervention, fathers' stress was reduced, but not significantly, possibly because of the variability in fathers' scores; mothers' stress scores were significantly reduced. Parenting styles were significantly different before and after intervention. Interdisciplinary teams, including occupational therapists, nurses, and special educators, can work.together to have a positive impact on the lives of families of children with autism.

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