Date of Award

Fall 12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Sara Jordan

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Tammy Barry

Committee Member 3

Christopher Barry

Committee Member 4

Keith Radley

Committee Member 4 Department



The current study examined disruptive behaviors, internalizing symptoms, parental distress, and parenting practices in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), ASD+ADHD, and typically-developing (TD) children. Specifically, the current study examined how those factors differed according to diagnostic group as well as how child characteristics (i.e., disruptive behaviors and internalizing symptoms) were related to parental factors above and beyond specific symptoms of ASD and ADHD (examined dimensionally). To examine those questions, parents of 14 children with ASD, 16 children with ADHD, 13 children with ASD+ADHD, and 15 TD children participated in the current study (total N = 58). They completed various online measures regarding their child’s diagnostic symptoms and functioning as well as self-report measures assessing their own distress levels and use of various specific parenting practices. Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) and analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) were conducted to examine group differences, and regression analyses were conducted to examine unique variance in parental factors accounted for by child characteristics. Although many of the hypotheses were not supported, some of the relevant findings of this study include the following: Children with an ADHD diagnosis—with or without comorbid ASD—exhibited higher levels of disruptive behaviors than other children; children with an ADHD diagnosis generally exhibited higher levels of internalizing symptoms than other children; parents of children with dual diagnoses (ASD+ADHD) generally demonstrated the highest levels of parental distress, although not significantly more than parents of children with ADHD (and group effects were nonsignificant when accounting for control variables); and inconsistent discipline was related to ADHD diagnoses and child disruptive behaviors. Limitations of the study and suggestions for further research are discussed