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Parent Stress and Perceptions of Language Development: Comparing Down Syndrome and Other Developmental Disabilities

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Abstract

This study extended research on the Down syndrome advantage by examining differences in parent stress and parent perceptions of language development between 29 parents of young children with Down syndrome and 82 parents of children with other developmental disabilities. Parents of children with Down syndrome reported lower levels of total stress, child-related stress, and stress surrounding the parent–child interaction. Parents of children in both groups reported that they felt successful in their ability to affect their children's communication development but did differ on perceptions of difficulty such that parents of children with Down syndrome perceived their children's communication difficulties as less severe despite the children exhibiting similar language skills. Finally, after accounting for potential explanatory confounding variables, child diagnosis remained a significant predictor of parent stress and perceptions of language development. Results highlight the importance of considering etiology when assisting families raising a child with a disability.

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