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A possible contra-indication for early diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Conditions : impact on parenting stress

Osborne, Lisa and McHugh, Louise and Saunders, Jo and Reed, Phil (2008) A possible contra-indication for early diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Conditions : impact on parenting stress. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2 (4). pp. 707-715. ISSN 1750-9467

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Abstract

The current study investigated the impact of diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASCs) in children on parenting stress. While there is increasing pressure to provide early diagnosis of ASC, there is a lack of evidence relating to the impact of early diagnosis on the parents. The parents of 85 children with ASC completed measures of their parenting stress, and gave a brief history of their child and their diagnosis. The children were assessed for autistic severity and behavioral functioning. Autistic severity predicted their parents’ first noticing a problem, and the speed of the latter, rather than the child's autistic severity, predicted obtaining an earlier diagnosis. The autistic severity of a child was related directly to parenting stress. However, earlier diagnosis may be detrimental to levels of parenting stress. While parenting stress declined over time from the point at which the parents had first noticed a problem in their child, it failed to change by any significant degree once the diagnosis of ASC had been received. Given this possible contra-indication for early diagnosis of ASC, it warrants caution and further investigation.