Stability and Individual Change in Depressive Symptoms Among Mothers Raising Young Children With ASD: Maternal and Child Correlates
Mothers raising children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) evidence elevated depressive symptoms, but symptom stability has not been examined. Mothers (N=143) of toddlers with ASD (77% boys) were enrolled and assessed when their children were 18 to 33 months old and followed annually for 2 years. Multilevel modeling revealed no significant change in group depressive symptom level, which was in the moderately elevated range (Intercept=13.67; SE=.96). In contrast, there was significant individual variation in change over time. Child problem behaviors and delayed competence, maternal anxiety symptoms and angry/hostile mood, low parenting efficacy and social supports, and coping styles were associated with depression severity. Only maternal anxiety and parenting efficacy predicted individual change. Many mothers do not appear to adapt, supporting the need for early intervention for maternal well-being.