The Parental Stress and Externalizing Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Oman: A Case-Control Study

Friday, May 12, 2017: 12:00 PM-1:40 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
O. A. Al-Farsi1, Y. Alfarsi2, M. M. Al-Sharbati3 and S. H. Al-Adawi4, (1)P.O. Box 34, PC 123, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman, (2)Sultan Qaboos University, Al-Khoud, OMAN, (3)Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat-Al-Khod, OMAN, (4)Behavioral Medicine, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman

Parental stress has been widely documented in the literature on children with developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These studies have demonstrated a linear relationship between co-occurring cognitive, emotional and behavior problems in children with ASD and parental stress. With the rising tide of ASD in emerging economies such as Oman, studies relevant for psychosocial issues relevant to ASD are warranted.


This study aims to compare the performance indices of externalizing behavior in children with ASD as solicited by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the parental reactivity as tapped by Parental Stress Scale (PSC) as well socio-demographic factors contribute to parental stress.


A case control study has been conducted on 122 ASD children, 81 intellectual disabilities, children and 90 typically developing children and their parents. Children with ASD were selected from the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH) by convenience sampling method whereas control groups were recruited by the same method from social centers and schools. Parenting stress was tapped into by Parental Stress Scale (PSC) while co-occurring cognitive, emotional and behavior functioning was evaluated using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).


The total mean score of SDQ for children with ASD (m=20) is greater than the total mean score of intellectual disabilities are typically developed children (m=16. 8, m=13. 3). The study found out a linear association between behavior problems in children with ASD and parental stress, in other words, whenever behavior problems in children with ASD increase, parental stress also increases (r2=0. 54, p-value= 0.001). The mean score of PSC for parents who caring for children with ASD (m=48. 4) was higher than the mean score of parents with children with ID (m=36. 3) and TD (m=35). Mothers of children with ASD experienced stress more than fathers. There was also trend on trajectory of socio-economic status on parental stress.


The parents of children with ASD are marked with higher indices of stress, a feat that has been observed from elsewhere. Secondly, externalizing behaviors are more common in children with ASD than the control. The mothers are more likely to experience higher stress compared to fathers. Moreover, income appears to play an important role in such trajectories. Concerted efforts are needed to introduce mechanisms to help parents with ASD in Oman in coping with the challenge of nurturing children with ASD.

See more of: Epidemiology
See more of: Epidemiology