Predictors of Depressive Symptoms in Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Document Type


Publication Date



Clinical Psychology


Approximately 25%-66% of parents who have children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exhibit symptoms of depression (Bitsika & Sharpley, 2004; Machado et al., 2016). Thus, it is important to examine different predictors of depression in this population. This study is examining the relationships between Broad Autism Phenotype traits (BAP; i.e., milder traits of ASD), emotion dysregulation, perceived social support, and depressive symptoms among parents of children with ASD. Past research indicates that parents who have BAP traits are more likely to have difficulties with emotion regulation (Berthoz et al., 2013; McDonnell & Nuttall, 2018; Rea et al., 2019) and have less adequate social support (Ingersoll & Hambrick, 2011; Pruitt et al., 2018). BAP traits have also been associated with the development and maintenance of depressive symptoms in parents of children with ASD (Ingersoll & Hambrick, 2011; Piven, 1991; Piven & Palmer, 1999; Pruitt et al., 2018; Sucksmith et al., 2011). However, no research to date has examined these four factors together. The current study sought to fill the gap in the literature by examining if emotion dysregulation and perceived social support will mediate the relationship between BAP traits and depressive symptoms in a sample of parents who have children diagnosed with ASD. Data is currently being collected from parents of children diagnosed with ASD through a national network of parenting and information centers and through MTurk. This study highlights the importance of personal factors (i.e., BAP traits and emotion regulation) and environmental factors (i.e., perceived social support) in the development and maintenance of depressive symptoms in parents of children with ASD. Clinical implications of the current research will be discussed.

First Advisor

S. Jean Caraway

Research Area

Clinical Psychology

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