Date of Conferral







Magy Martin


Recent estimates indicate that 1 in 100 children in the United States is diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Although research has demonstrated the bidirectional nature of parentchild relations, the effect of child autism symptom severity on parent-child interaction and overall relationships has not yet been explored. This study examined the impact of child symptom severity in children ages 4-15 years, as measured by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), on parent-child interaction, as measured by the Dyadic Coding Scale (DCS), and parent-child relationships, as measured by the Parent Child Relationship Inventory (PCRI). The bidirectional model of socialization informs the study, as it recognizes the mutual impact that parents and children have on one another in the context of parent-child relations. The sample included 25 parent-child dyads, each consisting of a child diagnosed on the autism spectrum and his/her primary parent. Relationships between autism symptom severity, parent-child interaction, and parent-child relationships were explored using multivariate regression analysis. Significant inverse relationships were found between autism symptom severity and parent-child interaction, but no relationship was found between symptom severity and parent-child relationship. Understanding the negative influence of autism symptom severity on parent-child interaction and the lack of impact on overall relationship allows for more effective treatment planning and monitoring of progress over time. Efforts to improve interactions and relationships for these children will lead to significant social change by increasing the effectiveness of treatment programs, enriching family relationships, and improving outcomes across the lifespan.