School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Alexandra Barnett


Parent Quality of Life, Transition and Stress, Transition and Coping, Transition College Residency Setting, Parents of Young Adults ASD, ASD Parents Higher Education


Education | Higher Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand, as a lived experience, the parents’ quality of life (QoL) with young adult children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) residing on a college campus. In addition, this study helped understand parent experiences related to factors about transition and their QoL. For parents of adult children with ASD in a college residency setting, many stressful and challenging times were attributed to their child living outside the home, which ultimately impacted parental stress and the parents’ QoL. The theory guiding this study is the Schlossberg Transition Theory (1981), and the 4 S Transition model of assimilation and appraisal was used to conceptualize the framework. The central research question for this study was designed to understand the lived experiences of parents with young adult ASD children living in a college residency setting and the impact stress and transition had on their QoL. The research sub-questions were designed to understand better parenting a young adult child with ASD and the significant challenges as resources and support systems were limited. A transcendental phenomenological approach was used for this study, and data collection included questionnaires, semi-structured individual interviews, and a single focus group interview. Data analysis was manually collected and included bracketing, open coding, and thematic analysis. The analysis yielded four major themes: Relinquishing Control, Fear of the Unknown, Evolution Within Transition, and Campus Support. In addition, findings from this study also revealed how to support families with adult children affected by autism and enrich the education of professionals who work with them in higher education.