The relationship between family functioning and behavior problems in children with autism spectrum disorders

Darryn Sikora, Erin Moran, Felice Orlich, Trevor A. Hall, Erica A. Kovacs, Jennifer Delahaye, Traci E. Clemons, Karen Kuhlthau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Although it is well known that families of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at risk for increased stress and other problems, little is known about what child characteristics may mediate that risk. To address the impact of child behavior problems on family health, we examined data collected from 136 families raising children with ASD. Children were divided into groups based on parent responses to the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL): low versus high internalizing and low versus high externalizing behavior problems. Family functioning was measured using the Family Impact Questionnaire, Revised (FIQ-R). Results of ANCOVA analyses indicated significant group differences in FIQ-R domains of Negative Attitudes About Parenting, Social Relationships, Sibling Impact, and Impact to Marriage when comparing externalizing behaviors. None of the FIQ-R domains demonstrated group differences when comparing internalizing behaviors. Correlation coefficients indicated moderately strong associations between higher externalizing behaviors and poorer family functioning, with the most significant associations among child behavior and increased negativity in parenting perceptions and poorer social functioning. This study provides information regarding co-occurring behaviors that have the strongest negative association with family functioning and the domains of family functioning most vulnerable to the severity of such behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-315
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Behavior problems
  • Family functioning
  • Impact on parents
  • Marriage
  • Siblings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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