Parental symptoms of posttraumatic stress following a child's diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder: A pilot study


Posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) are well documented in parents of children diagnosed with chronic disabilities and life-threatening illnesses. The occurrence of PTSS in parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (autism) has not been directly linked but instead only mentioned without data supporting the claim. This research was a retrospective study examining the occurrence of PTSS in parents of children with autism. The instruments used included in the survey were the Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R) and the LA Symptom Checklist (LASC). The IES-R was used for group membership (PTSS or not) and the LASC was used to determine if further psychosocial ailments were common to one group over the other. The findings validate the existence of PTSS in a subpopulation (20%) of parents. These findings document a need to recognize the degree of psychological impact/distress in parents resulting from their child being diagnosed with autism. Awareness of parental PTSS, will help ensure the necessary steps are taken to see that the parents/child's caretakers are healthy and that the child's access to treatment is not compromised due to parental stress. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders