Stressful life events and daily stressors affect awakening cortisol level in midlife mothers of individuals with autism spectrum disorders

Jen D. Wong, Marsha M. Seltzer, Jan S. Greenberg, Jinkuk Hong, David M. Almeida, Christopher L. Coe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: The current study examines the awakening cortisol level in midlife mothers (M=51.4 years old, SD=8.4) of individuals (M=22.1 years old, SD=7.1) with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) under stressful conditions that are not specific to their son or daughter's ASD symptoms. Methods: In addition to completing a set of questionnaires and in-home interviews, 82 mothers from the Adolescents and Adults with Autism Study (AAA) participated in a Daily Diary Study. Results: Findings from the multilevel models indicated that mothers who previously were exposed to no negative life events in the previous period had an increased awakening cortisol level on days following a greater number and more severe stressors, a normative stress response. In contrast, we observed a flatter cortisol level of daily stressors in mothers who experienced a greater number of negative life events in the previous period. Conclusion: These findings highlight the sustained toll that global and everyday stressors have on awakening cortisol level of midlife and aging mothers of individuals with ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-949
Number of pages11
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume16
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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