A Down Syndrome Advantage in Special Needs Parenting?

April 25, 2022

Study Finds that Marriages Dealing with Down Syndrome Have Less Stress than Marriages Managing Autism 

Parenting a child with any type of developmental disability is generally recognized as a situation which causes varying levels of stress on mothers and fathers. Recently, new research has investigated how this additional stress affects special needs parents’ marriages. In this current study, researchers examined the experiences of 213 couples living in the United States and Canada. Among these couples, 102 had a child with autism and 111 had a child with Down syndrome. The study’s findings showed that nearly a quarter of mothers and 20% of fathers of children with autism categorized their marriages as distressed. In comparison, the couples of children with Down syndrome, only 10% of mothers and 2% of fathers said the same. The study’s authors believe their data suggests that there may be a “Down syndrome advantage” as well as a “husband advantage” in special needs parenting. The authors believe the husband advantage could be related to husbands (typically) not being as directly involved in daily caregiving responsibilities. The study also focused on a term called “uplifts,” which was defined as positive experiences that offset day-to-day stress. The researchers found that parents of children with Down syndrome reported more uplifts than the parents of children with autism and, in turn, had less stress and greater marital equality.  


Original Article 

Original Study Abstract 

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