Background: Studies suggest autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are associated with high parenting stress and aggravation. Research on specific risk factors is needed.
Objective/hypotheses: To assess aggravation level among parents of children with and without ASDs.
Methods: The sample of 73,030 children aged 4 to 17 years in the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health and their parent respondents were divided into mutually exclusive groups based on child ASD status and other special health care needs. Adjusted prevalence ratios (aPR) for associations between a high Aggravation in Parenting scale score and various risk factors were computed from multivariable models.
Results: High-aggravation percentages were comparable for parents of children with a current ASD (36.6%), ASD reported previously but not currently (35.2%), and another (non-ASD) developmental problem (31.2%) but were significantly lower for parents of children with other special health care needs (6.5%) and no special health care needs (5.1%). Within the current-ASD group, high aggravation was associated with young child age (aPR = 1.8 [1.2-2.6]), lack of health insurance (aPR = 1.5 [1.0-2.4]), lack of a medical home (aPR = 2.2 [1.4-3.5]), recent child mental health treatment (aPR = 2.1 [1.5-3.0]), lack of parenting emotional support (aPR = 1.5 [1.1-2.1]), and ASD severity (aPR = 1.4 [1.0-1.6]). Some of these same factors were associated with aggravation in the non-ASD groups. However, the medical home finding was specific to the ASD groups.
Conclusions: Parenting a child with ASD is associated with high aggravation; however, there is variability within health care and social support subgroups. Strategies to strengthen medical home components for children with ASDs should be considered.
Published by Elsevier Inc.