It is estimated that 1 in 150 children born in the U.S. has autism. Mothers of autistic children face a number of challenges including uncertainty about their child's capabilities, difficulties in dealing with their children's behaviour and making sure services are provided to help their children. Not surprisingly, mothers of autistic children tend to suffer more from depression than other mothers. A team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts looked into this issue in a sample of 143 mothers of autistic children. The mothers were enrolled in the study when their were 18 to 33 months old and followed annually for two years. The mothers were found to have 'moderately elevated' symptoms of depression. Bad behaviour on the part of the children, delayed development, maternal anxiety, anger and hostility, low 'parenting efficacy' and lack of social support were all associated with more severe depression but only levels of anxiety and 'parenting efficacy' were linked to changes in depression symptoms over time.
Carter, Alice S., Martinez-Pedraza, Frances de L. and Gray, Sarah A.O. - Stability and individual change in depressive symptoms among mothers raising young children with ASD: maternal and child correlates Journal of Clinical Psychology December 2009, 65(12), 1270-1280