School of Behavioral Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)
Services, Help, Caregivers, Children, Autism, Christianity
Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences
Garcia, Stephanie, "Services to Help Caregivers of Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4873.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a mental health disorder for which the cause is unknown and for which there is no cure. This only exacerbates the psychological distress placed on caregivers of children diagnosed with ASD. The purpose of this qualitative study, using the phenomenological approach was to describe the services and assistance that caregivers of children diagnosed with ASD identified as most beneficial to them. Twelve participants were interviewed via phone. Each interview was audio-recorded with participants reporting the services and assistance they identified as helpful or believed would be helpful, specifically to them. Interviews were transcribed and data were analyzed. Analysis revealed details of the lived experiences of caregivers of children diagnosed with ASD, particularly related to the utilization of services, challenges to utilizing services, and their perception as to why certain services would be beneficial. The main themes of utilization included peer-parent support groups which participants stated would help to provide a sense of community, and respite care which participants stated would help to provide opportunities for self-care and improved mental health. Findings from this study may be used to establish or expand upon the services and assistance that caregivers of children with ASD identified as being helpful and/or needed. Recommendations for future research associated with this study include a larger sample size, criteria regarding the length of time a child has had a diagnosis of ASD, multiple geographic locations, and research on how the church could help fill gaps in the service needs of caregivers of children with ASD.