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Exploring the relationship of parental stress, child behaviour, and child adaptive skills to different types of respite



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Parents of children with developmental disabilities have been reported to experience higher levels of stress than parents of typically developing children. This stress has been found to lead to adverse effects for both parents and children. Respite has been found to be a buffer of stress in the short term. The objective of this study was to: determine the types of respite Saskatchewan parents are using; and examine the correlational relationship between formal and informal respite use and child behaviour concerns, child adaptive skills, and parental stress. Open-ended questions related to additional influences on respite use were also analyzed. The current study examined respite use in 26 parents in Saskatchewan who have children between the ages of 6 and 18 with a diagnosed developmental disability. The Respite Information Questionnaire (adapted from Preece & Jordon, 2007) was used to explore the types and hours of respite use, child behaviour concerns, and child adaptive needs. Parental stress levels were measured with the Parental Stress Scale (Berry & Jones, 1995). Descriptive statistics, correlations and Mann-Whitney U statistical tests were used to analyze data gathered from the questionnaire and Parental Stress Scale. Results from this research showed that Saskatchewan parents used a range of formal (e.g., care homes, trained individual respite providers) and informal respite (e.g., siblings, grandparents) both in type and hours of use. No relationship was found between formal and informal respite use and child adaptive skills or parental stress. A preliminary relationship between child behavioural concerns and stress was found, indicating that as child behavioural concerns increase so does formal respite use. However, a basic thematic analysis of open-ended questions showed that parents felt respite services were limited as a result of their child`s behavioral concerns. This suggests child behavioural concerns should be considered in respite policy and program development.



respite, parental stress, children with developmental disabilities



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Educational Psychology and Special Education


School and Counselling Psychology


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