Maternal beliefs about autism: A link between intervention services and autism severity in White and Latino mothers

Nuri M. Reyes, Olivia J. Lindly, Alison E. Chavez, Ann Folan, Kristy Macias, Kathryn A. Smith, Ann Reynolds, Katherine Zuckerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Variation in parental beliefs about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may impact subsequent service use profiles. This study aimed to examine (1) variation in beliefs about ASD among English language proficient White (EP-W) mothers, English language proficient Latino (EPL) mothers, and limited English language proficient Latino (LEP-L) mothers of children with ASD; (2) variation in beliefs about ASD in the context of the child's ASD severity, among EP White mothers, EP Latino others, and LEP Latino mothers; and (3) potential links between maternal beliefs about ASD and children's current ASD treatment. This multi-site study included 305 English or Spanish-speaking parents of children with ASD, ages 2–10 years, who completed a survey about their beliefs about their child's ASD, their child's ASD severity, and treatments used by their children. Results showed that mothers in the EP-W, EP-L, and LEP-L groups differed in their beliefs about viewing ASD as a mystery. Only maternal views of ASD severity in the EP-W group were linked to their beliefs about ASD. Finally, maternal beliefs about ASD having major consequences on their child's life, and ASD being a mystery were strongly associated with a child's use of ASD intervention services. These findings provide new knowledge of how maternal beliefs about ASD vary in linguistically diverse groups, how a child's ASD severity may influence such beliefs, and how maternal beliefs correlate with the amount of therapy children with ASD receive. Future research should address how these beliefs or views are formed, what factors influence them, or whether they are malleable. Understanding parents' beliefs or views of having a child with ASD can potentially help us increase use of ASD intervention services in families of children with ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-48
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • ASD severity
  • Autism
  • Children
  • Intervention services use
  • Maternal beliefs about ASD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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