• Smith-Magenis syndrome;
  • families;
  • stress;
  • coping;
  • mental retardation

To describe stress and coping in families of children with Smith-Magenis syndrome, the present authors interviewed and received questionnaires from families of 36 children with this disorder. For measures of total stress, and of parent and family problems, the best predictors were the family's number of friends and the child's degree of impairment on the Vineland socialization domain; the single best predictor of parental pessimism was the child's degree of maladaptive behaviour. Although the stress levels of the families of children with Smith-Magenis syndrome are comparable to the levels shown by the families of children with Prader-Willi and 5p- syndromes, these levels are much higher than the stress levels reported by families of children with mixed or non-specific developmental disabilities. Stress levels may be similar across aetiologies involving high levels of maladaptive behaviour, but the correlates of family stress—particularly the moderating role of family friends—seem specific to Smith-Magenis syndrome.