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Anales de Psicología

On-line version ISSN 1695-2294Print version ISSN 0212-9728


POZO, Pilar  and  SARRIA, Encarnación. A global model of stress in parents of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Anal. Psicol. [online]. 2014, vol.30, n.1, pp.180-191. ISSN 1695-2294.

This research sought to analyse stress among mothers and fathers of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to determine the relevant variables for its explanation and the possible gender differences. To examine parents' stress, we propose a multidimensional model based on the Double ABCX theoretical model. We argue that the result of stress depends on the following four interrelated factors: the characteristics of the individual with ASD (the severity of the disorder and behaviour problems), the social supports, the parents' perception of the situation (evaluated by sense of coherence) and the coping strategies. Fiftynine sets of parents (59 mothers and 59 fathers) of individuals diagnosed with ASD participated in the study. The data were analysed using a path analysis through the LISREL 8.80 program. We obtained two empirical models of stress: one model for mothers and one for fathers. In both models, the severity of the disorder and the behaviour problems had a direct and positive effect on stress. The sense of coherence (SOC) and active avoidance coping strategies had a mediating role in models. Social support was relevant only for mothers. Finally, the results offer some guidelines for professionals working with families.

Keywords : Autism spectrum disorders; double ABCX model; parental stress; behaviour problems; severity of the disorder; sense of coherence; social support; coping strategies.

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