Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sense of coherence in mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders: Autistic symptoms, behavior problems and risk of maternal depression
by Taylor, Tamara Leigh, Ph.D., Fielding Graduate University, 2016, 85; 10141542
Abstract (Summary)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a clinical term that refers to childhood pervasive developmental disorders which impair several areas of functioning, including social skills, communication abilities, and also include dysfunctional repetitive behaviors and interests. Associated behavior problems are commonly present in ASD. The maternal responsibilities of raising a child with ASD often lead to significant stress which is often associated with clinical depression. However, some mothers appear to possess protective factors or resilience that makes them less likely to develop depression. This study examined the relationship between core autistic symptoms, child behavioral problems, previous depression diagnoses before mothering the child with ASD, and maternal Sense of Coherence to learn if Sense of Coherence was a protective factor against maternal depression in mothers of children with ASD. A quantitative research design was used with three independent variables, including child autistic severity, child behavior problems, maternal Sense of Coherence, and maternal depression as the dependent variable. Bivariate correlational analysis and ANOVA were used to test for the significance of demographic variables. Previous depression diagnosis was statistically significant and controlled for. Two hypotheses were tested in the current study:

Hypothesis 1: (H1) Sense of Coherence will predict lower levels of depression, after controlling for potentially confounding demographic variables, the severity of autistic symptoms, and the intensity of child behavior problems.

Hypothesis 2: (H2) The Comprehensibility subscale in Sense of Coherence will predict lower levels of depression than the Manageability and Meaningfulness subscales, after controlling for potentially confounding demographic variables, the severity of autistic symptoms, and the intensity of child behavior problems.

Multiple hierarchical regressions were used to analyze these data. Hypothesis 1 was supported by the statistical analysis. Previous depression diagnosis was statistically significant (B = .41***), and it accounted for 17% of the variance in the hierarchical regression. Sense of Coherence statistically significantly predicted lower maternal depression (B = -.75***), and accounted for 45.1% of the variance in maternal depression. Hypothesis 2 was not supported by the statistical analysis. Previous depression diagnosis was statistically significant (B = .41***), and it accounted for 17% of the variance in the hierarchical regression. The Comprehensibility subscale of Sense of Coherence was not more significantly related to maternal depression than the Manageability or Meaningfulness subscales (B =-.11). However, the Meaningfulness subscale was statistically significantly related to maternal depression (B=-.41**). Sense of Coherence served as a protective factor against maternal depression in mothers of children with ASD; future research is needed in order to learn if these results generalize to the larger population of mothers of children with ASD.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schoenholtz-Read, Judith
Commitee: Field, Tiffany, Harway, Michele, Pelaez, Martha
School: Fielding Graduate University
Department: The School of Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 78/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Counseling Psychology, Developmental psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Antonovsky, Autism, Depression, Meaningfulness, Parenting, Resilience
Publication Number: 10141542
ISBN: 9781339969022
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