Parenting Daily Hassles and Pessimism Moderate the Relation between ASD Symptom Severity and Parental Expressed Emotion

Primary Author: Aurora Brinkman

Faculty Sponsor: Tammy Barry


Primary College/Unit: Arts and Sciences

Category: Physical and Social Sciences

Campus: Pullman



Principle Topic: Expressed emotion (EE) is the amount of criticism, hostility, and emotional over-involvement in family relationships. EE is common in families who have a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and can lead to worse outcomes for families, including greater physical and mental health problems for the caregivers and more severe child behavior problems. Past research has shown that stress and parenting style affect EE, but more research is needed to understand factors that impact EE. This study examined how intensity of parenting daily hassles and pessimism (both risk factors) impacts the relation between ASD symptom severity and EE (specifically criticism) over time.


Method: Participants were 127 caregivers who completed two online surveys (via Qualtrics) one year apart. At Time 1, caregivers completed measures assessing demographics, child ASD symptom severity, intensity of parenting daily hassles, and parental pessimism. At Time 2, they completed a questionnaire assessing parental criticism.


Results/Implications: Overall, ASD symptom severity related to parental criticism over time. Intensity of parenting daily hassles and pessimism at Time 1 each interacted with ASD symptom severity in predicting parental criticism. Parental criticism was high when the intensity of parenting daily hassles was also high, regardless of ASD symptom severity, or when both pessimism and ASD symptom severity were high.


The results indicate areas for clinical intervention when working with families with children with ASD. Addressing daily parenting hassles and reducing pessimism through positive coping strategies may lead to a reduction in EE, improving caregiver mental health and child behavior.