Background: Caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience increased stress and more significant negative caregiving consequences than those with typically developing children. There is a lack of studies specifically focusing on stress among caregivers with ASD children in Asian countries. The current study examines levels of perceived stress and factors associated with it among caregivers in Kelantan, Malaysia.
Methods: In a cross-sectional study, the Malay version of the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) was administered to 227 caregivers of children with ASD. The caregivers were recruited from ASD databases in four tertiary hospitals in Kelantan and a meeting was set up during the child's follow-up in the clinic. Multiple linear regression analyses were applied to determine the predictors of perceived stress.
Results: The mean total perceived stress score was 20.84 (4.72). This was considered higher than average. Higher perceived stress was significantly predicted among caregivers who live far from the health institution, caregivers who do not own transportation to bring the child to the treatment center, and caregivers who have an ASD child with a learning disability.
Conclusion: Caregivers of an ASD child perceived significant stress while taking care of their children. Institutions should alleviate the factors that were predicted to increase the caregivers' perceived stress to improve the quality of the lives of children and ASD families as a whole.