School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Frederick Milacci


Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities, PIMD, Parents of Children with PIMD, Disabilities, Coping, Stressors, Social Isolation, Spousal Support, Social Support


Counseling | Educational Psychology


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the lived experiences and coping strategies of parents of children with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) in Central Virginia. Research questions used to frame this study are: How do parents of children with PIMD describe their experiences as parents of children with PIMD? How do the parents of children with PIMD describe the impact of their experiences on their well-being? How do the parents of children with PIMD describe their understanding of and perspectives regarding their children’s disabilities? How do parents of children with PIMD describe the impact of having children with PIMD on their families and outside of family social and other interactions? The theories guiding this study are the Vélez-Agosto, Soto-Crespo, Vizcarrondo-Oppenheimer, Vega-Molina, and García Coll’s (2017) expanded bioecological theory and family systems theory (White & Bregman, 2011. Data was collected from eight parents of children with PIMD using semi-structured interviews, cognitive representations and focus groups. Data was analyzed using Yin’s (2011) five-phase qualitative data analysis approach. Two major themes emerged: My Life with My Child with PIMD is Like a Roller Coaster and Balancing the Stressors: From Surviving to Thriving. The implications of the results apply to parents of children with PIMD, their family members and friends as well as the medical, mental health and educational providers who serve them.