Codie Atherton was just awarded a Master of Clinical Psychology degree after completing her thesis titled “Developing a Brief Measure of Coparenting Competence: The Coparenting Competence Scale” under the supervision of Dr Linda Campbell and Dr Chris May (Family Action Centre).
Within the family, one of the most significant relationships that occurs is the coparenting relationship. This is the one that parents share in the raising of children. Recent research by May, St George, Fletcher, Dempsey, and Newman (2017) has developed the concept of coparenting competence, which is the sense of collective parenting efficacy that parents experience in raising children, that is generated in the coparenting relationship and only exists in association with that partnership. The concept of coparenting competence bridges a gap between family systems thinking and efficacy theory wherein research has previously focused on the self-efficacy of one or either parent and not the collective efficacy within the parenting partnership.
In order to learn more about how well parents think they parent together and to enable studies in which coparenting competence is measured - in the current study - we developed a self-adminstered measure of coparenting competence – the Coparenting Competence Scale. The measure was designed by experts in collaboration with parents. The reliability and validity of the measure was tested by asking 302 participants, who were currently living together with their child and had at least one child aged 17 years or younger, to complete the measure online. The current study found support for the reliability and validity of the scale and also found that coparenting competence, assessed by the scale, is distinct from factors previously used to represent coparenting quality in multivariate measures. The current study makes an important contribution to coparenting research with the development of a reliable and valid measure of coparenting competence. The development of the scale adds to the literature by demonstrating that this newly described construct is distinct from factors previously used to represent coparenting quality in multivariate measures. The scale adds to the field of coparenting research as a standalone measure, focused on efficacy, or as another assessable factor in multivariate evaluation of coparenting quality.
Codie’s thesis will be made available on Nova – The University of Newcastle’s digital repository. We are also currently writing up the findings for publication. We will keep you posted.
We are launching a new study exploring the parenting experience of having a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder and severe behavioural challenges such as aggression. We are particularly investigating aggressive behaviours in young people diagnosed with the 22q11.2 deletion syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders. We would like to learn more about the types of aggressive behaviours experienced, and also to learn more about how this behaviour affects the experience of parents and the impact these behaviours have on day-to-day family stress and functioning. This is important as there are no published studies exploring this phenomenon in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and we cannot develop appropriate interventions unless we understand the needs of people with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and their families.
Firstly, we would like to talk to parents of children aged between 11 and 18 who have a diagnosis of 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome who are aggressive but we would also like to talk those who have children who are not aggressive. We would then like to talk to parents who have adult children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome who were (or still are) aggressive in their adolescence.
To start off with the study is for Australian based parents only as we would like to conduct the interviews face-to-face. However, regardless of where you are from, if you have a child with the syndrome who is aggressive - and you are interested in participating in the study - send us a message and we will keep your details so we can contact you for the next phase of the study or organise alternative ways of learning more about your experiences.
Click here to read about the study and to send us a message. If it is not working you can always email us or contact us on Facebook.
Depression and anxiety symptoms during the transition to early adulthood for people with intellectual disabilities
Kristie Austin completed her Master in Clinical Psychology at the University of Newcastle back in 2015. Sometimes publications of data can take a long time but finally, we have published the findings in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.
The study explored the transition to adulthood is a major developmental milestone; a time of self-discovery and increased independence. For young adults (YA) with intellectual disabilities (ID), however, this period is especially challenging. The increased incidence of mental health disorders in this population, such as depression and anxiety, make this transition even more difficult, increasing caregiver burden at a time when the young adult would traditionally be gaining independence. It is not clear, however, why YA with ID are more susceptible and what factors may predict mental health symptoms.
The study found that the level of insight young people had was the strongest predictor of anxiety (with gender in the controls), with increased insight predicting fewer anxiety symptoms. However, YA with ID had significantly less insight than their aged-matched counterparts and significantly higher levels of anxiety. They were also less likely to have achieved traditional adulthood milestones. Maladaptive coping was the strongest predictor of depression for YA with ID. In comparison, both maladaptive coping and insight predicted depression in controls. More maladaptive coping predicted increased depressive symptoms in both populations, whilst increased insight predicted fewer depressive symptoms in controls.
Therefore, insight and maladaptive coping are potential targets in the treatment of anxiety and depression among YA with ID. Longitudinal intervention studies exploring the efficacy of such targeted programmes in reducing mental health symptoms and improving the transition to adulthood for these young people are recommended.
To read the full paper, click on the link below;
Austin, K. L., et al. "Depression and anxiety symptoms during the transition to early adulthood for people with intellectual disabilities." Journal of Intellectual Disability Research (2018).
The effects of maternal asthma during pregnancy on child cognitive and behavioral development: A systematic review
This week the most recent paper from our group got published in Journal of Asthma.
The article was a systematic review of the literature exploring the relationship between asthma during pregnancy and child development. Over the years, it has been well established that maternal asthma during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of negative perinatal outcomes. However, little is known about the direct effects of maternal asthma on infant cognitive development.
We found ten articles that explored this question. When reviewing the articles, we found that some studies reported that maternal asthma is associated with increased risk for autism and intellectual disability in children. However, the effects were small and were often eliminated when controlling for confounding variables. Other studies found no association. The only prospective study found that well-managed asthma during pregnancy was not associated with negative developmental outcomes in children. We concluded that the evidence suggesting a relationship between maternal asthma during pregnancy and poor developmental and behavioral outcomes of children were weak.
However, in order to fully explore and understand the impact of asthma during pregnancy, we need to follow children for a long time after birth. This is what we are doing with are Breathing for Life - Infant Development study (click here to learn more about our study). There has also been some interesting Australian research reported in the media recently highlighting a link between maternal immune system functioning, including asthma, during pregnancy and child outcomes. See here 'Allergies and flu in pregnancy linked to child developmental disorders, like autism and ADHD' and 'Pregnant mothers' asthma and allergies linked to more severe autism in their children'.
Citation: Olivia M. Whalen, Frini Karayanidis, Vanessa E. Murphy, Alison E. Lane, Carly A. Mallise & Linda E. Campbell (2018) The effects of maternal asthma during pregnancy on child cognitive and behavioral development: A systematic review, Journal of Asthma, DOI: 10.1080/02770903.2018.1437174
One of our FindLab alumni, Dr Jane Goodwin, has recently presented her PhD research at the 22q11 Europe 2nd Alliance Meeting at Trinity College, Dublin. Here is her account of the exciting experience:
'On 7th October 2017, I presented my PhD research at the 22q11 Europe 2nd Alliance Meeting at Trinity College, Dublin. I focused on the positive psychological aspect of the experience of raising a child with 22q11. I spoke about a survey of parents of children with developmental disability. Our research found that:
You can find Jane's slides from the presentation here.
It's been a busy week in the Find Lab! On Sunday (5/11/17) we had our hugely successful stall at the Central Coast Kids Day Out. It was a brilliant day, full of fun activities for the whole family. We'd like to say a huge thank you to all the families who braved the weather to come and say hi!
We also had some of our honours students from the lab finish the last part of their degree this Monday (6/11/17). They presented their findings from this year, and did a wonderful job. Taylah looked at infant-directed speech and infant attention this year, supervised by Dr Linda Campbell, and Brooke looked at infant executive function and eye-tracking this year, supervised by A/Prof Frini Karayanidis. We are sad to see you both leave, but we can't wait to see what the future holds for you both!
Congratulations Taylah and Brooke!
This Sunday, 5th November 2017, the FindLab will be hosting a stall at the annual Central Coast Kids Day Out!
We are very excited to meet many Central Coast families and tell you all about our research. This will be a fun day out for the kids too, with kids shows, games and rides, stalls, entertainers, workshops and performances!
Come along and say hi to the friendly faces behind our lab.
You can find the event page here for more info.
The BabyMinds study has been in the news again, with one of our PhD students Olivia Whalen talking to ABC Central Coast about the project. You can listen to this interview here, where Olivia talks about what we do in our research and what we hope to achieve.
We now have our BabyMinds lab set up at the Ourimbah campus of the University of Newcastle, and we are keen to see some Central Coast Families. If you are interested in participating in this research, please contact us! You can call (02) 4033 9160, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or find us on Facebook.
Our new study BabyMinds have recently received some media attention. The BabyMinds study is investigating how infants attention and cognitive processes changes during the first year of life. The ABC recently did an interview with Alix Woolard, who is one of three PhD students working on the project. PhD students Olivia Whalen and Carly Mallise are also involved in the study, under the supervision of psychologist Dr Linda Campbell, occupational therapist Associate Professor Alison Lane and neuroimaging specialist Associate Professor Frini Karayanidis. You can listen to the 123ABC Newcastle interview by clicking here or read the accompanying news article. In addition, Hunter Medical Research Institute issued a media release.
It is all really exciting and we are looking forward to start the study in earnest. If you are interested to participate in the study or simply to learn a bit more about what we do - please contact us. Phone (02) 4033 9160 or email email@example.com
Distress and Psychological Growth in Parenting an Adult Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Aggression
Linda Swaab completed her fourth year Honours in Psychology research in our lab with the additional supervision of Dr Lynne McCormack. Dr McCormack is an expert on qualitative research which an exploratory research method used to gain an understanding of how people reason, what opinions they have, and what their motivations are. Linda was interested in exploring the lived experience of parents with children who not only have an autism spectrum disorder but also who has intermittent outbursts of aggression.
For her study, Linda interviewed three parents of adult sons, aged between 20-30, with ASD who display intermittent and unpredictable aggressive behaviours towards family members. The participants took part in a one hour long interview and then the interviews were transcribed and analysed using a methodology known as three may interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA; to learn more about this methodology, click here)
When analysing the data, the overarching theme of the discourse was of complex parental distress and but also positive psychological growth. More specifically, the themes describe the psychological and emotional unpredictability that was relentless in daily life whilst parenting a child diagnosed with ASD complicated by outbursts of aggressive behaviour. Parents described experiencing a constant anticipation of potentially traumatic events. Parents also described experiencing powerful emotions of frustration, empathy, pity and an intense need to protect the child with ASD who displays aggression were in contrast with felt stigma and societal criticism. In time, parents developed their own pragmatic survival strategies for functioning as a family that could accommodate each family member’s needs as much as possible. Psychological well-being became a balance of striving for personal psychological growth despite the constancy of anticipatory traumatic events
If you would like to read the whole article, please click on the citation below. I am also glad to let you know that Linda has commenced a PhD to further study the area of parenting when having a child displaying aggressive behaviours.
Swaab, L., McCormack, L., & Campbell, L. E. (2017). Distress and Psychological Growth in Parenting an Adult Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Aggression. Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 1-11.
Hi, I am Dr Linda Campbell. I am an Academic and a Clinical Psychologist. This blog is meant to keep you in the loop about the activities of of our research lab - the FIND Lab.