Parental insightfulness is associated with mother–father–child interactions among families of preschoolers with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis

David Oppenheim, Nina Koren-Karie, Lior Hamburger, Yael Maccabi, Michal Slonim, Nurit Yirmiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Parental insightfulness underlies parental sensitive behavior and is associated with secure attachment among Typically Developing (TD) children and also among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Moving beyond the parent–child dyad, a study of TD children and their parents linked mothers' and fathers' combined insightfulness to triadic interactions. The goal of the current study was to examine this association in families with children with ASD. The hypothesis was that the interactions in families in which both parents are insightful will be more cooperative than in families in which only one or neither parent was insightful. Methods: Eighty preschooler boys with ASD and both of their parents participated in the study. Parental insightfulness was assessed employing the Insightfulness Assessment (IA) and mother–father–child interactions were observed and coded employing the Lausanne Triadic Play (LTP) procedure. Results: As expected, families in which both parents were insightful displayed higher parental coordinated support in the LTP than families in which one or neither parent was insightful, controlling for children's IQ and severity of symptoms. Children's engagement with their parents was associated with their IQ and severity of symptoms but not with parental insightfulness. Conclusions: The importance of considering paternal, in addition to maternal insightfulness as a foundation for parental coordinated support in family interactions, is discussed, as well as the contribution of the LTP in assessing family interactions with children diagnosed with ASD.

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by an Israel Science Foundation grant 155/15 and by the Harry and Sadie Lasky Foundation. The authors thank the participating families for their time and for sharing their experiences with the authors. Key points

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • fathers
  • parental insightfulness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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