Parental wellbeing of Iranian families with children who have developmental disabilities

Sayyed Ali Samadi, Roy McConkey, Brendan Bunting
Research in Developmental Disabilities 2014, 35 (7): 1639-47
To date, most research with families who have a child with developmental disabilities has been undertaken in English speaking countries. Poorer health, allied with increased levels of stress has been commonly reported for mothers but less is known about the impact on fathers and on overall family functioning. This study aimed to document the correlates of these parental impacts with Iranian mothers and fathers who had children with either intellectual disabilities (ID) or with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In all 121 parents (69 mothers and 52 fathers from 94 families) who had a child with a diagnosis of ADS, along with 115 parents of children with ID (83 mothers and 32 fathers from 101 families) volunteered to take part in the study. Each participant completed through interview standardised rating scales of parenting stress, emotional well-being, family functioning and satisfaction with caring role along with demographic information and details of informal supports. Structural Equation Modeling identified that family functioning was much poorer in families whose child had ASD and both mothers and fathers reported higher levels of stress. Poorer emotional well-being contributed to higher stress and was more frequent among mothers, single parents and those whose children had behaviour problems. Having other dependents living at home and more sources of informal support improved the emotional wellbeing of parents but not their stress or family functioning. Parents who derived greater satisfaction from their caring role tended to have better emotional health and less stress. Although the impact on Iranian parents of having a child with developmental disabilities is broadly similar to those of parents in other cultures, there are indications that children with ASD present distinct challenges to these families. The model derived in this study is a useful guide both for further research as well as family-centred interventions.


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