The Influence of Ethnicity, Family Problems, and Optimism on Services Received Among Latino and Non-Latino White Children with ASD
Objectives: We investigated a mediation model for services received among Latina and non-Latina White mothers. First, we aimed to identify whether optimism mediated the relationship between family problems and services received. Second, we aimed to explore the role of ethnicity as a moderator within the proposed mediation model.
Methods: Forty-five Latino caregivers and 56 non-Latino White caregivers were administered a questionnaire on their experiences with their child’s diagnosis and service use. Children were between 3 and 21 years of age (μ=9.6; SD=4.5) at the time of the study. A global measure of Optimism was based on the Life Orientation Test. Family Problems was measured by the parent and family problems subscale in the Questionnaire on Resources and Stress. Child behavior problems was measured using the Scales of Independent Behavior-Revised. Services received was based on responses to 7 items pertaining to whether children had ever received a given service.
Bivariate correlations were conducted for all variables in the study. A mediation model was produced using Baron and Kenny’s (1989) four step model to mediation. The independent variable was family problems. The dependent variable was the number of services received. The proposed mediator was mother’s optimism. Following, we included ethnicity as a moderator in the mediation model using the PROCESS macro in SPSS 24. We expected ethnicity to moderate the relationship between family problems and optimism.
Results: The results for the mediation analyses indicated that optimism did mediate the relationship between family problems and services received. The regressions indicated that more family problems predicted more services received. Fewer family problems predicted greater optimism. Family problems was no longer a significant predictor of services received after controlling for the mediator, optimism. The results for the moderated mediation model indicated that ethnicity was not significant.
Conclusions: Analyses indicate that the number of family problems perceived by mothers contributes to the number of services children with ASD receive, as did mother’s global optimism. Understanding the influence of these factors on services received has implications for the development of interventions addressing services for children with ASD and their families.