Int J Environ Res Public Health 18 (21) - [2021-10-21; online 2021-10-21]
Parents of children with a neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD) report higher levels of distress compared to those of typically developing children. Distress levels may be heightened by the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is unclear whether distress levels of parents varied by the diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorder in children during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aims to investigate whether parental distress was influenced by the type of NDD. Participants were from Australia (N = 196) and Italy (N = 200); the parents of children aged 3-18 were invited to complete an online self-reported survey which included the 6-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6) to determine parental distress. The results show that intellectual or learning disorder (ILD) is a major contributor to parental distress compared to other NDDs in both Australia and Italy. Moreover, the worsening of symptomatic changes in children with NDDs was significantly associated with parental distress. The differences between the two countries in terms of the pandemic impact, however, were not statistically significant. The results suggest that intervention strategies need to be tailored for individual clinical information and factor in the society's stringency level of anti-contagion policies to improve parental wellbeing.