Family quality of life and autism diagnosis status

Published Feb 2017


Quality of life in families of children with additional needs or autistic children is often lower compared to families of neurotypical children.


Why did we do this study?

The goal of this study was to understand whether an autism diagnosis influenced the quality of life of families of children with additional needs.


What did we do?
Mothers of children with additional needs, some of whom also had an autism diagnosis, as well as mothers of neurotypical children, completed a questionnaire on quality of life, stress, services available, child behaviour and autism traits.


What did we find?

We found that more autism traits were linked with more stress in mothers and lower family quality of life. Importantly, a group of children with signs of autism did not have a diagnosis, and it is the family of these children that had the lowest quality of life. This suggests that for children with additional needs and signs of autism, receiving an autism diagnosis can help with family quality of life.



The results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and are available at

McKechanie, A., Moffat, V. J., Johnstone, E., & Fletcher-Watson, S. (2017). Links between autism spectrum disorder diagnostic status and family quality of life. Children, 4(4)


Who conducted and funded the project?

This study was conducted by Andrew McKechanie, Vivien Moffat, Eve Johnstone, and Sue Fletcher-Watson. The project was funded by the Medical Research Council.

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