Allyson Davis


Background: Studies have shown that parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) exhibit higher levels of stress than parents of typically developing children or children with other types of developmental disabilities. This relationship appears to be mediated by elevated levels of behavior problems observed in children with ASD. However, little is known about what specific child behavior problems are most common in this population, how these behavior problems relate to parental stress, and/or how these behavior problems may impact the efficacy of a stress-reduction intervention. We examined the relationship between parenting stress and child behavior problems in parents of young children with ASD participating in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention. Method: The current study utilized data from the Mindful Awareness for Parenting Stress Project and included 39 parents of children with ASD. Results: The most commonly endorsed child behavior problems included attention problems, language problems, and externalizing behavior problems. Two specific behavior problems, “doesn’t answer when people talk to him/her” and “temper tantrums or hot temper,” were significantly related to parental stress levels at intake and both of these behavior problems significantly predicted changes in parenting stress from pre to post intervention. Conclusions: Identifying the behavior problems that are most difficult for parents to handle will allow clinicians to tailor interventions to the specific needs of families. Those behavior problems that have the greatest negative impact on parental stress are ideal targets for interventions.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Neece, Cameron L.

Second Advisor

Freeman, Kimberly R.

Third Advisor

Vermeersch, David A.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Parents of Autistic Children; Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders; Autistic Disorder; Child Development Disorders - Pervasive; Child Behavior Disorders; Stress - Psychological; Adaptation - Psychological; Parenting

Subject - Local

Autism Spectrum Disorder; Child Behavior Problems; Stress-reduction Intervention; Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website


Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives