Background: Research highlights the need for ongoing social support of mothers of children with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Despite recognised differences between mothers and fathers, little is known about the particular social support needs of fathers of children with ASD. Broadly, this study aimed to explore the support needs of fathers of children with ASD compared with fathers of children without a disability (W/OD) and the relation between social support, psychological distress and sociodemographic factors.
Method: Drawing from a large, nationally representative community sample of children, 159 fathers of children with ASD were identified, where 6578 fathers of children W/OD were used as a comparison sample.
Results: Over 70% of fathers of children with ASD reported that support was inaccessible and were significantly more likely to report so compared with fathers of children W/OD. Emotional/informational social support was the strongest social support domain associated with fathers' experiences of psychological distress.
Conclusions: This study provided important insight into the social support needs of fathers of children with ASD.