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Parents of children with autism deal with great amounts of stress. Nikko Da Paz, a Los Banos resident, can tell you. Da Paz is the mother of a 9-year-old diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. She also happens to be leading a new study at UC Merced that looks at the mental and physical distress faced by parents of children with autism spectrum disorder.

Da Paz, a doctoral student in psychological sciences, said the objective of her research is to expand the understanding of the disorder and get the parent-health perspective – an angle that is often overlooked.