Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Special Education

First Committee Member

Beatrice Babbitt

Number of Pages



The purpose of this study is to assess stress levels and coping strategies of parents with children with autism. The goal is to identify the resources and support systems which parents use for coping with their stress and to assess whether the support systems differ between mothers and fathers. This study will also investigate differences in coping strategies used by parents of children with autism and parents of typically developing children; Subjects in this study included thirty parents of children with autism, and thirty parents of typically developing children. All participants were recruited from the Eastern, Midwest, and Western part of the United States. All participants' children ranged from two through eleven. Participants filled out a demographics questionnaire, the Parenting Stress Index, and the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations. The participants with children with autism also participated in a follow up interview; Results revealed that parents who had a child with autism reported higher child related stress than parents without a child with autism. Parents with children with autism also reported more life stress than parents without children with autism. Parents with typically developing children used more task oriented coping than parents of children with autism. Males also used significantly more task oriented coping than females. Results indicated that parents of children with autism engaged in more emotion oriented coping and that females engaged in more emotion oriented coping than males. Females also engaged in more avoidance oriented coping and distraction coping than males. Results revealed that females used social diversion coping more than males; Parents rated their spouse as their most frequently used resources in coping with their child; There are many implications from this study including teaching parents behavioral strategies, addressing financial concerns, and encouraging families to join a support group. Parents should be encouraged to continue the use of their spouse and family for support in helping managing their stress.


Autism; Children; Coping; Levels; Parents; Strategies; Stress

Controlled Subject

Special education; Clinical psychology; Social psychology

File Format


File Size

1720.32 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have the full text removed from Digital Scholarship@UNLV, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.


IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit