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Children 2017, 4(4), 23; doi:10.3390/children4040023

Links between Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Status and Family Quality of Life

1
Clinical Research Fellow and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, The Patrick Wild Centre, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH10 5HF, UK
2
The Salvesen Mindroom Centre, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 1UW, UK
3
Division of Psychiatry, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH10 5HF, UK
4
Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Honorary Assistant Principal, Mental Health Research Development and Public Understanding of Medicine, Division of Psychiatry, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH10 5HF, UK
5
Chancellor’s Fellow, The Patrick Wild Centre, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH10 5HF, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 February 2017 / Revised: 22 March 2017 / Accepted: 27 March 2017 / Published: 3 April 2017
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Abstract

Quality of life is often relatively lowered in families of children with additional needs, and this may be particularly the case where additional needs are accompanied by an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Here we explore the effects of diagnostic status specifically, comparing families with children with an ASD diagnosis with others who a) have additional needs but no signs of ASD; and b) have additional needs and signs of ASD but no diagnosis. Mothers (n = 76) of children with additional needs completed standardised questionnaires about quality of life, stress, service provision, child behaviour and presence and severity of ASD traits. In addition, a group of mothers of typically developing young people (n = 17) completed standardised questionnaires on individual and family quality of life and on the behaviour of their son or daughter. Mothers of typically developing young people had significantly higher individual and family quality of life scores than each of the three other groups. Increased severity of ASD was associated with increased maternal stress, which in turn was associated with decreased family and maternal quality of life. The group reporting the lowest quality of life and the highest stress were the mothers of individuals with signs of ASD but no diagnosis. This pattern did not seem to be explained by lack of access to services, or rates of intellectual disability or challenging behaviour in this sub‐group. The finding that poor quality of life and high stress was most apparent in the sub‐group of mothers with children who had signs of ASD but did not have a diagnosis of ASD suggests that an interesting topic for further investigation is whether receipt of a diagnosis itself can positively influence quality of life and levels of maternal stress. View Full-Text
Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; diagnosis; quality of life; stress autism spectrum disorder; diagnosis; quality of life; stress
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

McKechanie, A.G.; Moffat, V.J.; Johnstone, E.C.; Fletcher-Watson, S. Links between Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Status and Family Quality of Life. Children 2017, 4, 23.

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