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09-11-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 3/2018

Journal of Child and Family Studies 3/2018

Differential Effects of Child Difficulties on Family Burdens across Diagnostic Groups

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 3/2018
Kristen N. Dovgan, Micah O. Mazurek
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10826-017-0944-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and intellectual disability (ID), have a variety of difficulties that can place considerable strain on their families. This study investigated the nature of family burdens (i.e., financial burden, need for respite, need for counseling, work changes, and care hours) by examining the effects of child characteristics (i.e., age, gender, and severity of condition), family characteristics (i.e., parent role, education, income, and number of children), and child difficulties (i.e., behavioral, adaptive, emotional, social, learning, and communicative). With representative survey data from parents of children with ADHD (n = 8252), ASD (n = 1448), or ID (n = 949), ranging in age from 2 to 17 years old, we used Χ 2, binary logistic regression, linear regression, and univariate analyses to answer our research questions. We found that parents of children with ADHD, ASD, and ID experienced different types and amounts of burdens, families of younger children experienced more burden than those of older children, and families with more income or more children experienced fewer burdens. Adaptive and behavioral difficulties had the greatest relative impact on families. Diagnosis moderated almost all of the relationships between child difficulties and family burden. Overall, these results suggest that providing services and supports that are tailored to the specific needs of each child and family will be necessary for enhancing quality of life.

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