Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (v, 96 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kristin V Christodulu

Committee Members

Melissa L Rinaldi, Betty Lin


Parenting, Autistic children, Stress (Psychology)

Subject Categories



Parents raising children on the autism spectrum frequently report high parenting stress and caregiver strain as well as reduced quality of life. With the exception of studies that examine the role of parents within the intervention context, relatively little is known about the combinations of strategies that parents use in their daily lives to support their children’s unique symptom presentations. Even less is known about how these combinations of strategies relate to parent well-being. The current study used a person-centered approach to explore profiles of parenting behaviors among 223 caregivers of school-aged autistic children, and the clusters were compared on child traits and different facets of parental well-being. A two-stage cluster analysis revealed three subgroups of parents that differed on their use of accommodation, strategies to reduce uncertainty, and reinforcement approaches. The third cluster was characterized by the highest levels of accommodation and reducing uncertainty and was found to be linked with elevated parenting stress and caregiver strain; reduced quality of life for the parent; and more ASD traits, externalizing behaviors, and attentional challenges for the child. Identification of this vulnerable subset of parents and children has important implications for research and practice. This study also identified a large subset of parents who reported normative levels of parenting stress, even in the context of a global pandemic, highlighting the importance of taking a nuanced approach to studying parenting in ASD that considers the diversity of family experiences.

Included in

Psychology Commons