Background: The estimated prevalence rate of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) in children is 6 per 1.000. Parenting children who are intellectually impaired and have PDDs is known to be linked to the impaired well-being of the parents themselves. However, there is still little available data on health-related quality of life (HRQL) in parents of children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), or other PDD diagnoses in children of normal intelligence. The present study aimed to evaluate aspects of HRQL in parents of school-age children with AS/HFA and the correlates with child behaviour characteristics.
Methods: The sample consisted of 31 mothers and 30 fathers of 32 children with AS/HFA and 30 mothers and 29 fathers of 32 age and gender matched children with typical development. Parental HRQL was surveyed by the use of the 12 Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) which measures physical and mental well-being. The child behaviour characteristics were assessed using the structured questionnaires: The High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) and The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).
Results: The mothers of children with AS/HFA had lower SF-12 scores than the controls, indicating poorer physical health. The mothers of children with AS/HFA also had lower physical SF-12 scores compared to the fathers. In the AS/HFA group, maternal health was related to behaviour problems such as hyperactivity and conduct problems in the child.
Conclusion: Mothers but not fathers of children with AS/HFA reported impaired HRQL, and there was a relationship between maternal well-being and child behaviour characteristics.