Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Genetic Counseling

First Advisor

Richard R Ferrante


Purpose: This study aimed to evaluate parental satisfaction and anxiety regarding the high school educational experiences of their child with a previous diagnosis of Asperger syndrome (AS), as well as educators' understanding of the diagnosis and what information they deemed important to know about the student. The goal of this study was to develop an educational tool that would aid in initiating communication between parents of a student with AS, or with a new diagnosis of high-functioning autism (HFA), and their teachers. This would be an additional resource of use to pediatric genetic counselors that frequently see families regarding a diagnosis of ASD, as genetic etiologies for autism continue to be discovered. Methods: Parent participants were reached through local and national autism support groups, in addition to support groups based in social media. The parental survey included an adaptation of the State Trait Anxiety Inventory, Likert scale questions regarding satisfaction, and demographic questions. Teacher participants were recruited from high schools in South Carolina by receiving the invitation letter via email from their respective school principals and also through an educational conference in Columbia, SC. Questions on the teacher survey focused on past experiences teaching students with AS, desired parental involvement, and desired knowledge regarding the student. Results: Of the total respondents (N = 172), 101 parent participants met the inclusion criteria. Their baseline anxiety was significantly lower than their anxiety regarding their child's school experiences. Overall, parents tended to be satisfied with teacher qualities, but less satisfied with the education experience as a whole. 10 teacher participants were interviewed and had a good overall understanding of the well-known characteristics of AS, and they desired knowing strategies for handling different situations that may occur in the classroom, as well as certain "triggers" that may upset the student. Conclusions: Teachers expressed interest in parent contact, yet a noticeable subset of parent respondents (37%) found it difficult to communicate with their child's teachers. Based on the findings of this study, the educational tool incorporates information teachers desired to know, and can assist initiating communication between parents of a child with AS or HFA and their child's teachers.

HWarrenThesisSupplementalEducationalTool.pdf (115 kB)
Educational Tool developed from Thesis Research