Effects of shared personality types of parents and children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders on parental stress
The increase in reported cases of children with autism calls for an increasing understanding of how their diagnosis affects the relationship between parent and child. This study investigated the interaction of personality types between parents and their children diagnosed with high functioning autism and stress. Personality type for children was measured by the Student Styles Questionnaire and for parents the Myers Briggs Type Indicator was used. Parental stress was measured by the Parenting Stress Index/Short Form or the Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents depending on the child's age. Results showed that parent and child similarity on personality types resulted in more stress on the thinking/feeling personality dimension. The study was broken down to two smaller studies. An additional comparison group of children without a clinical diagnosis matched on ethnicity, age, and gender was used to compare the reported level of stress between parents of a child with autism and those without. Statistical analyses revealed that parents of children with high functioning autism, Asperger's Disorder or Pervasive Developmental Disorder report more stress than parents of children without a diagnosis. Additional comparisons were made with the combined autism group and the matched comparison group to investigate if there are differences between the stress experienced by mother and fathers. Analyses indicated that mothers report similar stress as fathers.