Hey, how’s the family?: an examination of risk and protective factors of life satisfaction of caregivers and typically developing siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder
Objective: The purpose of the present study was to examine risk and protective factors associated with the life satisfaction of caregivers and typically developing (TD) siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Method: Participants for this study included 106 families of children with ASD ages 3 to 17 years old, with at least a primary caregiver and a TD sibling ages 11 to 17 years serving as respondents. Of these 106 families, 68 families had a secondary caregiver who also participated in the study. Caregivers reported on the ASD symptom severity and behavioral and emotional problems of their child with ASD and their TD child. Additionally, caregivers self-reported on their distress, perceived social support, and life satisfaction. TD siblings self-reported on their perceived social support and life satisfaction, as well as their own behavioral and emotional problems. Results: PROCESS, a computational tool for SPSS that allows for the examination of indirect effects via bootstrapping techniques (Hayes, 2013, 2018), was used to examine six parallel mediation models. Results revealed no direct effect for characteristics of the child with ASD (i.e., ASD symptom severity, behavioral and emotional problems) on life satisfaction for any family member. Additionally, no indirect effect through social support was found for any family member and no indirect effect of caregiver distress was found for secondary caregivers or TD siblings. However, results indicated an indirect effect of characteristics of the child with ASD on life satisfaction through caregiver distress for primary caregivers. Conclusions: Results of this study provide insight into the functioning of family members of children with ASD and provide important clinical implications for working with the families, as well as suggestions for future research.