Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Child Development



First Reader/Committee Chair

Laura Kamptner, Ph. D


Research has consistently shown that parents raising a child with autism spectrum disorders, or ASDs, have higher levels of stress than parents of typically-developing children or children with other disabilities. These parents’ higher levels of stress are attributed to a number of different factors, including early atypical development, getting the diagnosis, lack of awareness of resources, lack of support from their communities, unmet resource and schooling needs for their ASD child, financial strain, strain on the couple relationship, managing maladaptive behaviors, regulatory problems of the ASD child may experience, communication problems between ASD child and parent, parents’ perception of their own competency, ambiguity of the ASD child’s future, and the future of the family as a whole. The purpose of this project was to decrease parents’ levels of stress (while increasing their perception of competency and knowledge of autism) in a four-session course. Pre- and post- test data showed that participating parents decreased their stress level, increased their knowledge about autism, and felt more competent in raising their child. For future trainings, it would be important to encourage participation and retention of participants by offering an incentive. In addition, including more specific criteria for parents eligible for the program in order to target more families raising a child with an ASD.