Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Dr. Jessica Bradshaw

First Reader

Dr. Katherine Bangert

Second Reader

Dr. Katherine Bangert


Autism spectrum disorder, commonly known as ASD, is one of the most well-known and recognized neurodevelopmental disorders. Parenting a child with ASD is typically more stressful than caring for other children (Boyd, 2002). Because of this stress, these parents are likely to experience caregiver burnout, which is a condition that develops when someone is overwhelmed with taking care of another person without the proper support channels (Tkatch et al., 2017). It is beneficial to utilize support services in order to alleviate caregiver stress, and there are several different types of support services. However, minimal research has been done on the benefits and availability of formal and informal support services.

This study aimed to determine which support services aimed specifically at parents of children with autism spectrum disorder are the most helpful in mitigating stress levels and how available and accessible the services are to these parents. This was accomplished by surveying parents of children with ASD, asking which services they benefitted from after their child’s diagnosis and if they felt that there were services that were unavailable to them. Additionally, demographic information was collected for further exploration to determine underlying factors that could influence answers to the previous questions. Household income level, age of child at diagnosis, and total number of children of the respondent were all variables that were collected and used in the exploration of the data. Overall, respondents chose formal support as their more beneficial type of service. Formal support was always impacted by other factors, and informal services frequently were as well. About half the participants found services unavailable, and household income level did not seem to affect this availability, as an equal number of families above and below the median income experienced unavailable services. Overall, the participants tended to find formal support services more helpful, and there was not a substantial difference between the number of respondents who found services to be unavailable and those who did not.

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© 2022, Maria Striebich