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Family adjustment and interventions in neurodevelopmental disorders
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    Purpose of review

    Developmental disabilities are increasingly recognized, and remarkable progress is being made on the genetic and neurobiological underpinnings of many disorders. Yet, only a tiny percentage of the disability literature addresses families of children with disabilities. A review of recently published family studies reveals salient trends and gaps.

    Recent findings

    Consistent with previous work, high levels of parent stress, illness, anxiety, and depression are apparent. Studies in the USA focused on parents of children with autism; in contrast, studies on parents of children with intellectual disabilities were almost always conduced abroad. Compared to other disabilities, families of children with psychiatric disorders and genetic syndromes are understudied. The majority of family studies are descriptive, with very few trials or interventions aimed at reducing parental stress. Of these, mindfulness practices and a peer-mentor model of treatment delivery hold much promise for effective stress reduction. Psychoeducational programs and respite care are differentially beneficial.


    A new era of family intervention research is in order. This work can take advantage of many advances in telemedicine, peer-mentor models, smart technology, and biomarkers as indices of change. Benefit could also stem from group interventions with parents who share similar concerns, regardless of their child’s diagnostic label.

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    90DD0596/DD/NCBDD CDC HHS/United States
    P30 HD015052/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
    U54 HD083211/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
    RC1 AT005612/AT/NCCIH NIH HHS/United States
    R0135681/PHS HHS/United States
    5RC1AT005612/AT/NCCIH NIH HHS/United States
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