Semester of Graduation

Fall 2021


Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication, restricted interest, and repetitive patterns of behavior. Individuals with ASD also exhibit challenging behaviors that affect parent and caregiver stress directly. However, researchers have not yet examined the predictive influence of specific challenging behaviors on parent stress, particularly in young children (i.e., infants and toddlers) with ASD. Therefore, the current study expands existing literature by a) investigating the influence that challenging behaviors of young children with ASD have on parent stress and b) examining the unique contribution that each behavior (i.e., aggressive/disruptive behavior, stereotypy, and self-injurious behavior) adds to the relationship. A standard multiple linear regression was conducted to examine the impact of challenging behavior severity scores on parent distress in 54 parents of young children with ASD. Results revealed that the overall severity of challenging behaviors significantly predicted parent distress. However, aggressive/disruptive behavior and stereotypy did not add statistical significance to the model. Interestingly, SIB was the only significant predicting factor that added unique variance to predicting parent distress.

Committee Chair

Matson, Johnny L.