Background: People with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are stigmatized, and therefore discriminated against worldwide and, on many occasions, this stigma and discrimination are expanded to include their family caregivers. The main objective of this research was to examine the consequences of perceived discrimination on family caregivers of children with ASD and children with ID.
Methods: The sample consisted of 109 Spanish caregivers of children with ASD and 83 caregivers of children with ID. They completed four questionnaires: Multidimensional Perceived Discrimination Scale, Affiliate Stigma Scale, Social Support Questionnaire and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.
Results: Using path analysis, we found support for a model in which personal discrimination perceived by caregivers was positively associated with affiliate stigma, which, in turn, was negatively related to caregivers' self-esteem. The model also shows the total mediational role of affiliate stigma in the association between perceived discrimination and self-esteem and the partial mediational role that social support plays in the association between perceived discrimination and caregivers' self-esteem.
Conclusions: Caregivers' perceived discrimination negatively influences caregivers' self-esteem, but this relationship is mediated by both affiliate stigma (totally) and social support (partially). These results have theoretical and practical implications and may contribute to improving the quality of life of parents of children with ASD and ID that in turn would result in an improvement of the quality of life of their children.