Relating Stress of Mothers of Children with Developmental Disabilities to Family-School Partnerships

Research Summary 

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

Purpose: Although there is a bulk of research about parent and child characteristics and their relation to maternal stress, little research has examined whether school characteristics relate to maternal stress. In this study, we aimed to identify parent, child, and school characteristics relate to maternal stress.  

Method: We conducted a national, web-based survey of parents of children with disabilities. In this study, 965 mothers of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities were included in the sample.   


  • We found a non-linear relationship between school characteristics and maternal stress. Specifically, when parents had excellent (versus poor to fair) partnerships, were highly (versus somewhat or not at all) satisfied with school services and engaged in no (versus any) advocacy activities reported significantly less maternal stress.  
  • Less stress was also found among mothers of children with less problem behaviors, children with Down syndrome, and the absence of autism.  
  • Less stress was also reported among mothers who did not enact their procedural safeguards, who were minorities, and who were more extroverted.  

For more information, see:  

Burke, M.M. & Hodapp, R.M. (2014). Relating stress of mothers of children with  

developmental disabilities to family-school partnerships. Intellectual and Developmental  

Disabilities, 52, 13-23.  DOI: 10.1352/1934-9556-52.1.13