Maternal Psychiatric History: Implications for Autism Severity

Thursday, May 17, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
3:00 PM
E. Allain, C. M. Brewton, E. Gonzalez and G. T. Schanding, School Psychology, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Background:  Past research has demonstrated an association between maternal psychiatric history and the incidence of having a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD; Daniels et al., 2008; Larsson, 2004). Moreover, mothers and other first-degree relatives of children with ASD have been found to have higher rates of major depressive disorder, social phobia, anxiety, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) than those of children with other disabilities (Bolton, Pickles, Murphy, and Rutter, 1996; Piven & Palmer, 1999). While recent research has found that maternal depressive symptoms may be contingent on child ASD symptom severity, research in this area is very limited and further research is necessary to explore potential associations between child characteristics and maternal psychiatric well-being (Ingersoll & Hambrick, 2011). This poster will be a partial replication of the Ingersoll and Hambrick (2011) paper and will add to the literature by: (a) including a broader range of current maternal psychiatric diagnoses and (b) examining how adaptive functioning of children with ASD may be associated with maternal psychiatric diagnoses. 

Objectives:  To partially replicate the findings of the Ingersoll and Hambrick (2011) article by investigating potential associations between 14 different maternal psychiatric diagnoses (i.e., depression, anxiety, social phobia, OCD, Attention Hyperactivity Disorder) and child adaptive functioning.

Methods:  Participants are children with ASD from the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC;, which contains children between the ages of 4 and 18 years. All have received clinical diagnoses of ASD via administrations of the Autism Diagnostic Interview—Revised (ADI-R; Rutter et al., 2009) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS; Lord et al., 2000). Additional participants will include the biological mothers of the children with ASD. Demographic information will include participant sex, age, and race/ethnicity. Child ASD adaptive functioning will be assessed through the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale-Second Edition (VABS-II; Sparrow, Cicchetti, and Balla, 2005) adaptive behavior composite score. Maternal psychiatric history will be determined through an SSC-specific measure called the Medical History Interview (MHI) and will include reported incidence of 14 different diagnoses including depression, anxiety, social phobia, OCD, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. All data for this project have been collected via the SSC.

Results:  An analysis of variance (ANOVA) test will be conducted to determine if there are differences in child adaptive functioning across the various maternal psychiatric diagnoses. If significant differences are discovered, appropriate post hoc analyses will be utilized.

Conclusions:  Findings from this study may add to the findings from the Ingersoll and Hambrick (2011) article and may further reveal the importance of understanding the potential impact maternal psychiatric history may have on children with ASD.

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