Relating stress of mothers of children with developmental disabilities to family-school partnerships

Meghan M. Burke, Robert M. Hodapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Although mothers of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) experience high levels of stress and schools constitute an important resource, the relation remains unknown between maternal stress and educational services. Responding to a national, web-based survey, 965 mothers of students with disabilities completed a 163-item questionnaire about parent stress. We examined which child, parent, and parent-school characteristics correlated with maternal stress. Mothers with lower stress levels reported better parent-school relationships and low levels of parent advocacy. However, lower stress levels were predominantly shown by mothers with good-toexcellent parent-school relationships (vs. poor-to-fair partnerships) and who engaged in virtually no (vs. any) advocacy activities. Lower maternal stress levels were also noted when children had fewer behavior problems, Down syndrome, and did not have autism. Less stress was also reported by mothers who had not enacted procedural safeguards, were minorities, and rated themselves lower on neuroticism and were more extroverted, dependable, and open to new experiences. This study has important implications for practitioners and researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-23
Number of pages11
JournalIntellectual and developmental disabilities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Developmental disability
  • Education
  • Family-school partnership
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Community and Home Care
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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