Little is known about parent experiences throughout the diagnostic process for autism or how these parent experiences may help explain the disparities that exist between Hispanic and non-Hispanic families in time-to-diagnosis among children identified as at risk for autism. The current study examined trajectories of parenting stress, coping, and perceived family impact over time, throughout the autism diagnostic process among Hispanic and non-Hispanic families. Hispanic families reported lower levels of parenting stress, coping, and negative family impact across time. Further, there were differences in the change in use of coping and the amount of negative family impact reported between Hispanic and non-Hispanic parents over time. These differences shed light on the unique experiences and strengths of Hispanic families demonstrate. Interventions that leverage those strengths and focus on education, empowerment, and resilience might be particularly beneficial for Hispanic families and may also better inform work to increase resilience.
Keywords: autism risk; autism spectrum disorders; coping; developmental disabilities; family impact; parenting stress; trajectories.