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Emotional and behavioral problems in children with autism spectrum disorder and psychological distress in their parents in Saudi Arabia: The moderating effect of marital relationship satisfaction

  • Shatha Jamil Khusaifan
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
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  • Mogeda El Sayed El Keshky
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author at: King Abdul Aziz University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 42803, Jeddah 21551, Saudi Arabia.
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, Assiut University, Egypt
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Published:April 08, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedn.2022.03.015

      Highlights

      • Autism-related factors in children are associated with psychological distress of their parents
      • Emotional and behavioral problems of children diagnosed with autism are related to increased anxiety of their parents
      • Increased family support needs are associated with increased anxiety of parents
      • Adaptive behaviors of children with autism are associated with decreased depression of their parents
      • Marital satisfaction moderates the impact of emotional and behavioral problems of children on anxiety of their parents

      Abstract

      Background

      There is a well-established association between emotional and behavioral problems in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), unmet family support needs, and psychological distress in their parents. However, no studies hypothesized a buffering effect of marital relationship satisfaction.

      Aim

      The aim of this research was to investigate the moderating effect of marital relationship satisfaction in the associations among emotional and behavioral problems in children with ASD, unmet family support needs, and anxiety and depression of their parents in the context of Saudi Arabia.

      Design and methods

      This cross-sectional study recruited parents from five rehabilitation centers for children with ASD in Saudi Arabia. Data were collected with surveys completed online. A sample of 93 parents (84% female, 4.3% were 24 or younger, 36.2% between 25 and 34 years old, 40.5% between 35 and 44, and 14.7% between 45 and 54) of children with ASD was obtained. Two models of multiple regression analysis were performed to determine the relationships.

      Results

      About 56% of the parents had anxiety symptoms and 60% had depressive symptoms. Emotional and behavioral problems of children and higher levels of unmet family support needs were associated with higher levels of anxiety in parents, and adaptive behavior of children was associated with reduced levels of depression in parents. Relationship satisfaction moderated the impact of children's emotional and behavioral problems on parental anxiety.

      Conclusion and implications

      The study highlighted the importance of marital relationship satisfaction in buffering the negative effects of ASD-related factors of children on the psychological well-being of their parents.

      Keywords

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