Fatigue in Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Role of Parental and Child Factors for Mothers and Fathers
Ivens, Sarah Elizabeth
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This study examined child and parental factors associated with fatigue in parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) by using the Middle-Range Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms (TOUS) model. The research was designed to 1) extend our understanding of fatigue in parents of children with a diagnosis of ASDs by investigating fatigue in both mothers and fathers, and 2) identify and examine the associations between psychological, physiological, parental situational, and child-based situational factors. Mothers (N = 78) and fathers (N = 34) of children with ASDs aged 2-12 years were recruited from across Canada. Participants completed a confidential questionnaire battery regarding their fatigue level, parenting self-efficacy, parenting satisfaction, sleep quality, depressive and anxiety symptoms, social support, marital satisfaction, level of physical activity, caregiving burdens, their child’s sleep quality, and their child’s behavioural problems. Fathers reported lower levels of fatigue than mothers. Fatigue was associated with psychological, physiological, and situational factors, including child-based situational factors, although child-based situational factors were predictive of fatigue in mothers but not fathers. Fatigue was negatively correlated with parenting self-efficacy and parenting satisfaction in both mothers and fathers. This study improves our understanding of a variety of factors that impact parental fatigue, allowing clinicians to better support parents and provide avenues for the development of interventions to help reduce parental fatigue. It also contributes to the existing literature by exploring how maternal and paternal experiences of children with ASDs differ and how parental fatigue is related to ASDs.