Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

MA Special Education


Interdisciplinary & Inclusive Eduction


College of Education


Accardo, Amy

Committee Member 1

Kuder, Sydney J.

Committee Member 2

Xin, Joy


Children with autism spectrum disorders--Family relationships


Special Education and Teaching


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects millions of children and families alike and is characterized by impairments in socialization, communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviors. The impairments caused by ASD vary in severity and may negatively impact a child’s functioning. The purpose of this exploratory research is to critically examine ASD and how it impacts family units following diagnosis. To that end, this qualitative study provides first-hand accounts of families who have lived through their child’s ASD diagnosis. This study provides accounts from four participating families on the topics of their personal feelings of ASD, their knowledge of ASD before and after their child’s diagnosis, the impact on their family dynamic, ASD’s affect on inter-familial relationships, support systems used to persevere, their acceptance (or nonacceptance) of the diagnosis, and educational supports used to assist in their child’s development. The implications of this research provide a deeper knowledge base and insight for affected families, social workers, teachers, therapists and non-affected families alike to understand the wide range of issues that ASD can and does present as well as reinforces the appropriate resources necessary to support and enable affected families to persevere.