A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Winter, 2023 | Number 1, Volume 37

Parents of children with ASD report high rates of stress, stigmatization

Caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or other neurological conditions experience high rates of stress, poor mental health, and stigmatization, according to a new study from Australia. 

Emily D’Arcy and colleagues surveyed 66 caregivers caring for children with neurological conditions. Nearly all of the children were diagnosed with ASD and/or attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The researchers found that almost 80 percent of respondents experienced poor well-being, high levels of stress, and poor mental health. In addition, more than 22 percent reported experiencing stigmatization. 

Lead study author Ben Milbourn adds, “Financial stresses were also a major contributor to caregivers’ poor mental health and well-being, with the study finding that caregivers faced significant obstacles in terms of career success and progression and were often required to make personal sacrifices which impacted their personal identity.” 

The researchers conclude, “Findings indicate that there is an array of unmet needs amongst this population, including support groups, education and training, respite and financial assistance.” Milbourn adds, “Future caregiver interventions and support services should specifically focus on protecting caregivers from existing stigma, while also educating the general public about what stigma is, how caregivers experience it, and how the general public is contributing to this.”


Citations

“The well-being and support needs of Australian caregivers of neurodiverse children,” Emily D’Arcy, Tayah Burnett, Emily Capstick, Catherine Elder, Olivia Slee, Sonya Girdler, Melissa Scott, and Ben Milbourn, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, February 9, 2023 (free online). Address: Ben Milbourn, ben.milbourn@ curtin.edu.au.