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The relationship between family functioning and behavior problems in children with autism spectrum disorders

TitleThe relationship between family functioning and behavior problems in children with autism spectrum disorders
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsSikora, DM, Moran, E, Orlich, F, Hall, TA, Kovacs, EA, Delahaye, J, Clemons, TE, Kuhlthau, KA
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Lead Author
Darryn Sikora

Study Aims and Objectives
This paper aimed to study the relationship between family quality of life and behavior problems in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Methods- Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
136 families were recruited into the study. Each had a child with an ASD diagnosis who was between the ages of 2 and 17. The Family Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) was used to measure the impact of caring for a child with a chronic disability. The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was used to assess behavior problems present in the child with ASD.

Results- Main Findings
Children were divided into groups depending on their CBCL scores and were sorted into groups based on whether behavior problems were low or high. Groups were then compared on FIQ scores. This study found that there were significant associations between higher behavior problems and impairment in four family impact scales of the FIQ. These measures included Negative Feelings toward Parenting, Social Relationships, Impact to Siblings, and Impact to Marriage. These associations held true for acting out behaviors like aggression and hyperactivity, but not for less obvious behaviors like anxiety or depression. The strongest associations were between acting out behavior, negative feelings about parenting, and social relationships.

Conclusion- Summary Statement
Higher levels of behavior issues in children with ASD were shown to predict greater impairment on the FIQ, which suggests that families with a child who externalizes many negative behaviors may have a lower health related quality of life, specifically in the areas of negative feelings about being a parent and limited social relationships. Improving these behaviors may improve the quality of life for the whole family.