School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Lucinda Spaulding


ASD, Autism, Maslow’s Hierarchy, Parental Needs, Parent-teacher Relationship, Special Education


Disability and Equity in Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology | Other Education


Parents of children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) encounter many stressors beyond the typical parenting pressures that parents of children without disabilities face. Along with the additional challenges, parents of children with ASD face complex needs that differ from parents of children with other types of disabilities. The purpose of this qualitative study was to consider the needs of parents (N = 10) with children with ASD served in a public school system in North Georgia through the framework of Maslow’s (1943) Theory of Human Motivation. A transcendental phenomenological design was used to provide a voice to parents of children with ASD. Data was collected through timelines, personal interviews, and focus groups. The data was then analyzed in accordance with Moustakas’ (1994) transcendental approach using bracketing, horizonalization, and developing clusters of meaning in order to determine to the essence of the experience of the participants. Five major themes emerged from data analysis: (a) understanding challenging experiences; (b) searching for knowledge; (c) searching for acceptance; (d) searching for self-worth; and (e) desiring to help others.