Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 168–178 | Cite as

Autism Severity and Qualities of Parent–Child Relations

  • Nicole M. Beurkens
  • Jessica A. Hobson
  • R. Peter Hobson
Original Paper

Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine how severity of autism affects children’s interactions (relatedness) and relationships with their parents. Participants were 25 parent–child dyads that included offspring who were children with autism aged from 4 to 14 years. The severity of the children’s autism was assessed using the calibrated severity metric of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (Gotham et al. in J Autism Dev Disord 39:693–705, 2009). Parent–child dyads were videotaped in 10-min semi-structured play interactions, and qualities of interpersonal relatedness were rated with the Dyadic Coding Scales (Humber and Moss in Am J Orthopsychiatr 75(1):128–141, 2005). Quality of relationships between parents and children were evaluated with a parent self-report measure, the Parent Child Relationship Inventory (Gerard in Parent–Child Relationship Inventory (PCRI) manual. WPS, Los Angeles, 1994). Multivariate regression analysis revealed that severity of autism was inversely related to patterns of parent–child interaction but not to reported quality of parent–child relationship. We consider the implications for thinking about relatedness and relationships among children with autism, and opportunities for intervention.

Keywords

Parent–child interaction Autism severity Communication Relationship-based treatment Attachment 

References

  1. Aldred, C., Green, J., & Adams, C. (2004). A new social communication intervention for children with autism: Pilot randomized controlled treatment study suggesting effectiveness. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(8), 1420–1430.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnold, D. S., O’Leary, S. G., Wolff, L. S., & Acker, M. M. (1993). The Parenting Scale: A measure of dysfunctional parenting in discipline situations. Psychological Assessment, 5(2), 137–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, B. L., Blacher, J., & Olsson, M. B. (2005). Preschool children with and without developmental delay: Behavior problems, parents’ optimism and well-being. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 49, 575–590.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bauminger, N. (2004). The expression and understanding of jealousy in children with autism. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 157–177.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bell, R. Q. (1968). A reinterpretation of the direction of effects in studies of socialization. Psychological Review, 75(2), 81–95.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bugental, D. B. (2000). Acquisition of the algorithms of social life: A domain-based approach. Psychological Bulletin, 126(2), 187–219.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Capps, L., Kehres, J., & Sigman, M. (1998). Conversational abilities among children with autism and children with developmental delays. Autism, 2, 325–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Charman, T., Howlin, P., Berry, B., & Prince, E. (2004). Measuring developmental progress of children with autism spectrum disorder on school entry using parent report. Autism, 8(1), 89–100.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Charman, T., Swettenham, J., Baron-Cohen, S., Cox, A., Baird, G., & Drew, A. (1997). Infants with autism: An investigation of empathy, pretend play, joint attention, and imitation. Developmental Psychology, 33, 781–789.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cummings, E. M., Davies, P. T., & Campbell, S. B. (2000). Developmental psychopathology and family process: Theory, research, and clinical implications. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dawson, G., Hill, D., Spencer, A., Galpert, L., & Watson, L. (1990). Affective exchanges between young autistic children and their mothers. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 18, 335–345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. DeMol, J., & Buysse, A. (2008). The phenomenology of children’s influence on parents. Journal of Family Therapy, 30, 163–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fogel, A. (2009). What is a transaction. In A. J. Sameroff (Ed.), The transactional model of development: How children and contexts shape each other. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  14. García-Pérez, R. M., Lee, A., & Hobson, R. P. (2007). On intersubjective engagement in autism: A controlled study of nonverbal aspects of conversation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1310–1322.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gerard, A. B. (1994). Parent–Child relationship inventory (PCRI) manual. Los Angeles: WPS.Google Scholar
  16. Gernsbacher, M. A. (2006). Toward a behavior of reciprocity. Journal of Developmental Processes, 1, 139–152.Google Scholar
  17. Gotham, K., Pickles, A., & Lord, C. (2009). Standardizing ADOS scores for a measure of severity in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 693–705.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gotham, K., Risi, S., Dawson, G., Tager-Flusberg, H., Joseph, R., Carter, A., et al. (2008). A replication of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) revised algorithms. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47(6), 642–651.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Green, S. B. (1991). How many subjects does it take to do a regression analysis. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 26(3), 499–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Green, J., Charman, T., McConachie, H., Aldred, C., Slonims, V., Howlin, P., et al. (2010). Parent-mediated communication-focused treatment in children with autism (PACT): A randomised-controlled trial. The Lancet, 375, 2152–2160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gulsrud, A. C., Laudan, B. J., & Kasari, C. (2010). The co-regulation of emotions between mothers and their children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(2), 227–237.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gutstein, S. (2009). The RDI Book: Forging new pathways for autism, Asperger’s syndrome and PDD with the Relationship Development Intervention program. Houston, TX: Connections Center Press.Google Scholar
  23. Gutstein, S., Burgess, A. F., & Montfort, K. (2007). Evaluation of the Relationship Development Intervention program. Autism, 11, 397–411.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harach, L. D., & Kuczynski, L. J. (2005). Construction and maintenance of parent–child relationships: Bidireactional contributions from the perspective of parents. Infant and Child Development, 14, 327–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hastings, R. P. (2002). Parental stress and behaviour problems of children with developmental disability. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 27(3), 149–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hoagwood, K., Burns, B. J., Kiser, L., Ringeisen, H., & Schoenwald, S. K. (2001). Evidence-based practice in child and adolescent mental health services. Psychiatric Services, 52(9), 1179–1189.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hobson, R. P., Chidambi, G., Lee, A., & Meyer, J. (2006). Foundations for self-awareness: An exploration through autism. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 284(71), 1–165.Google Scholar
  28. Hobson, J. A., & Hobson, R. P. (2011, May). Emotional regulation in autism: A relational, therapeutic perspective. Poster presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, May 12–14, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
  29. Hobson, J. A., Hobson, R. P., Gutstein, S., Ballarani, A., & Bargiota, K. (2008, May). Caregiverchild relatedness in autism: What changes with intervention? Poster presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, May 15–17, London, UK.Google Scholar
  30. Hobson, R. P., & Lee, A. (1998). Hello and goodbye: A study of social engagement in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28, 117–127.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hoffman, C. D., Sweeney, D. P., Hodge, D., Lopez-Wagner, M. C., & Looney, L. (2009). Parenting stress and closeness: Mothers of typically developing children and mothers of children with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 24(3), 178–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Howlin, P. (2000). Autism and intellectual disability: Diagnostic and treatment issues. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 93, 351–355.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Howlin, P., Magiati, I., & Charman, T. (2009). Systematic review of early intensive behavioral interventions for children with autism. American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 114(1), 23–41.Google Scholar
  34. Humber, N., & Moss, E. (2005). The relationship of preschool and early school age attachment to mother–child interaction. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75(1), 128–141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jones, E. A., Carr, E. G., & Feeley, K. M. (2006). Multiple effects of joint attention intervention for children with autism. Behavior Modification, 30(6), 782–834.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child, 2, 217–250.Google Scholar
  37. Kasari, C., Paparella, T., Freeman, S., & Jahromi, L. (2008). Language outcome in autism: randomized comparison of joint attention and play interventions. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76, 125–137.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kasari, C., Sigman, M., Mundy, P., & Yirmiya, N. (1988). Caregiver interactions with autistic children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 16(1), 45–56.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kasari, C., Sigman, M., Mundy, P., & Yirmiya, N. (1990). Affective sharing in the context of joint attention interactions of normal, autistic and mentally retarded children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 20, 87–100.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Koren-Karie, N., Oppenheim, D., Dolev, S., & Yirmiya, N. (2009). Mother of securely attached children with autism spectrum disorder are more sensitive than mothers of insecurely attached children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 643–650.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kuczynski, L., Loulis, S., & Koguchi, Y. (2003). Reconstructing common sense: Metaphors of bidirectionality in parent–child relations. In L. Kuczynski (Ed.), Handbook of dynamics in parent–child relations (pp. 421–437). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Laursen, B., & Bukowski, W. M. (1997). A developmental guide to the organization of close relationships. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 21(4), 747–770.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, P., & Rissi, S. (2002). Autism diagnostic observation schedule manual. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  44. Loulis, S., & Kuczynski, L. (1997). Beyond one hand clapping: Seeing bidirectionality in parent–child relations. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14(4), 441–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mahoney, G., & Perales, F. (2003). Using relationship-focused intervention to enhance the social emotional functioning of young children with autism spectrum disorders. Topics in early Childhood Special Education, 23(2), 74–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Markus, J., Mundy, P., Morales, M., Delgado, C. E. F., & Yale, M. (2000). Individual differences in infant skills as predictors of child-caregiver joint attention and language. Social Development, 9, 302–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nakagawa, S. (2004). A farewell to Bonferroni: The problems of low statistical power and publication bias. Behavioral Ecology, 15(6), 1044–1045.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ozonoff, S., & Cathcart, K. (1998). Effectiveness of a home program intervention for young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28(1), 25–32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pakenham, K. I., Samios, C., & Sofronoff, K. (2005). Adjustment in mothers of children with Asperger syndrome. Autism, 9, 191–212.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Reis, H. T., Collins, W. A., & Berscheid, E. (2000). The relationship context of human behavior and development. Psychological Bulletin, 126(6), 844–872.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rogers, S. J., Ozonoff, S., & Maslin-Cole, C. (1991). A comparative study of attachment behaviour in young children with autism or other psychiatric disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30, 483–488.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rogers, S. J., & Vismara, L. A. (2008). Evidence-based comprehensive treatments for early autism. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37(1), 8–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ruble, L., McDuffie, A., King, A. S., & Lorenz, D. (2008). Caregiver responsiveness and social interaction behaviors of young children with autism. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 28, 158–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sameroff, A. J. (2009). The transactional model. In A. J. Sameroff (Ed.), The transactional model of development: How children and contexts shape each other. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sameroff, A. J., & Chandler, M. J. (1975). Reproductive risk and the continuum of caretaker casualty. In F. D. Horowitz (Ed.), Review of child development research (Vol. 4). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  56. Schertz, H. H., & Odom, S. L. (2007). Promoting joint attention in toddlers with autism: A parent-mediated developmental model. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1562–1575.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Shapiro, T., Sherman, M., Calamari, G., & Koch, D. (1987). Attachment in autism and other developmental disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 26, 485–490.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sigman, M., & Mundy, P. (1989). Social attachments in autistic children. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 28, 74–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Siller, M., & Sigman, M. (2002). The behaviors of parents of children with autism predict the subsequent development of their children’s communication. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32(2), 77–89.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Siller, M., & Sigman, M. (2008). Modeling longitudinal change in the language abilities of children with autism: Parent behaviors and child characteristics as predictors of change. Developmental Psychology, 44(6), 1691–1704.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Fisher, B. C., Wahler, R. G., Mcaleavey, K., et al. (2006). Mindful parenting decreases aggression, noncompliance, and self-injury in children with autism. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 14, 169–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sofronoff, K., Leslie, A., & Brown, W. (2004). Parent management training and Asperger syndrome. Autism, 8(3), 301–317.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Solomon, R., Necheles, J., Ferch, C., & Bruckman, D. (2007). Pilot study of a parent training program for young children with autism. Autism, 11(3), 205–224.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Solomon, M., Ono, M., Timmer, S., & Goodlin-Jones, B. (2008). The effectiveness of parent–child interaction therapy for families of children on the autism spectrum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 1278–1291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Spiker, D., Boyce, G. C., & Boyce, L. K. (2002). Parent–child interactions when young children have disabilities. International Review of Research in Mental Retardation, 25, 35–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Stuart, M., & McGrew, J. H. (2009). Caregiver burden after receiving a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3, 86–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Symon, J. B. (2005). Expanding interventions for children with autism: Parents as trainers. Journal of Positive behavioral Interventions, 7, 159–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Van Hooste, A., & Maes, B. (2003). Family factors in the early development of children with Down syndrome. Journal of Early Intervention, 25, 296–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Van Ijzendoorn, M. H., Rutgers, A. H., Bakemans-Kranenburg, M. J., Swinkels, S. H. N., Van Daalen, E., et al. (2007). Parental sensitivity and attachment in children with autism spectrum disorder: Comparison with children with mental retardation, with language delays, and with typical development. Child Development, 78, 597–608.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Vismara, L. A., Colombi, C., & Rogers, S. J. (2009). Can one hour per week of therapy lead to lasting changes in young children with autism? Autism, 13(1). 93–115.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Warfield, M. E. (2005). Family and work predictors of parenting role stress among two-earner families of children with disabilities. Infant & Child Development, 14, 155–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wetherby, A. M., & Woods, J. J. (2006). Early social interaction project for children with autism spectrum disorders beginning in the second year of life: A preliminary study. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 26, 67–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Whittingham, K., Sofronoff, K., Sheffield, J., & Sanders, M. R. (2009). Stepping Stones Triple P: An RCT of a parenting program with parents of a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 469–480.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wieder, S., & Greenspan, S. I. (2003). Climbing the symbolic ladder in the DIR model through floor time/interactive play. Autism, 7(4), 425–435.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Willemsen-Swinkely, S. H. N., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Buitelaar, J. K., van Ijzendoorn, M. H., & van Engeland, H. (2000). Insecure and disorganized attachment in children with a pervasive developmental disorder: Relationship with social interaction and heart rate. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41, 759–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wimpory, D. C., Hobson, R. P., Williams, J. M. G., & Nash, S. (2000). Are infants with autism socially engaged? A controlled study of recent retrospective parental reports. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30, 525–536.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Yirmiya, N., & Sigman, M. (2001). Attachment in children with autism. In J. Richer & S. Coates (Eds.), Autism-the search for coherence (pp. 53–63). London: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole M. Beurkens
    • 1
  • Jessica A. Hobson
    • 2
    • 3
  • R. Peter Hobson
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Horizons Developmental Resource CenterCaledoniaUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Child HealthUniversity Collge LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Tavistock ClinicLondonUK

Personalised recommendations