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Examining bidirectional relationships between parenting and child maladjustment in youth with autism spectrum disorder: A 9-year longitudinal study

  • Lisa M. Dieleman (a1), Sarah S. W. De Pauw (a1), Bart Soenens (a1), Wim Beyers (a1) and Peter Prinzie (a2)...
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.

Longitudinal bidirectional effects between parents and children are usually studied in samples of typically developing children, but remain understudied in families with a child with autism spectrum disorder. This three-wave longitudinal study examined how parents and children with autism spectrum disorder influence one another, relying on parent reports of parenting behaviors and children's problem behaviors across 9 years, in a sample of 139 youngsters (M age Time 1 = 10.2 years, 83% boys). Cross-lagged analyses indicated that children's externalizing problems at Time 1 predicted negative controlling parenting 6 years later (Time 2) that in turn predicted externalizing problems 3 years later (Time 3). Negative parental control at Time 1 also increased the risk for internalizing problems at Time 2. It was surprising that externalizing problems at Time 2 also predicted positive parental involvement at Time 3. Thus, although results indicate that externalizing problems generally elicit maladaptive reactions in parents, this study also suggests that parents adjust their way of reacting to externalizing child problems as their child reaches adolescence/emerging adulthood. Implications for future research on parenting dynamics in families with a child with autism spectrum disorder are discussed.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Lisa M. Dieleman, Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, H. Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium; E-mail:
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This research was funded by Grant GV/B-202 from the Marguerite-Marie Delacroix Support Fund and Grants FWO 12B4614N and 11X6516N from the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders. The authors thank all of the participating families, the autism service centers, and the organizations that contributed to this research.

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