Parental Stress and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Grounded Theory Inquiry
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In this thesis, the researcher applied grounded theory methodology to the question of what combination of conceptual framework and explanatory principles accounts for the differential stress of the parents of children diagnosed with autism. Further consideration was given to whether a better understanding of the issues and challenges that underlie this stress might help guide parents, therapists and policymakers toward measures that could be applied to relieve or resolve this stress. After applying a survey (n=61) and an interview, the stressors were found to be multiple, with 29 different sources of stress identified. Those stressors were organized into five core categories: Child Factors, External Factors, Parent Role Expansion, Parent Burden and Parent Journey. A substantive theory is advanced that the interaction of these five factors accounts for the high levels of parent stress. It was noted that the majority of the efforts to assist these families focus on the Child Factors, and some of the External Factors, while parents reported most often feeling stress from their Expanded roles, their Burden, and their Journey. Supports, which might address each of the core categories, are suggested.