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New research conducted by Dr. Estes indicates that parenting a child with autism may be more stressful than mothering a child with a developmental delay. Mothers were requested to rate their level of stress on the following areas:

    * related to parenting

    * not related to parenting

    * behavioral problems in children

    * degree of difficulty doing day-to-day tasks for their children

Mothers of children with autism reported higher levels of stress in both parenting and in their daily lives than parents of developmentally delayed children. Dr. Estes’s findings suggest that problematic behaviors characteristic to autism increase parents’ levels of stress, such as:

    * irritability

    * crying

    * agitation

    * inappropriate speech

Mothers did not report greater stress in the daily caring of their children. It appears that mothers are able to cope well with the daily tasks of parenting that include dressing, feeding and getting their children to school. The implication of this study is that early intervention would be beneficial in alleviating parent levels of stress by improving children’s behavior. This research is helpful in that it points to the effects of autism on the family rather than solely focusing on the child with autism.  

*For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at [Link Removed] 

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