Date of Award

12-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Jennifer Schulman

Second Supervisor

Janet B. Lyons

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify the impact of a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder on treatment options available, within the learning environment, at the onset of a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from the perspective of parents and pediatricians. Utilizing a qualitative methodology to identify codes, themes, and sub-themes through semi-structured interviews, the research captures the lived experiences of five parents with children on the autism spectrum and five pediatricians who cared for those children and families. The researcher utilized the theoretical frameworks of behaviorist and psychologist, B. F. Skinner, as well as psychologist Uri Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory. The research study results conclude that the parents had little to no information available to them at the onset of their children’s diagnosis. Furthermore, the parents were unable to identify what treatment options were available within their children’s learning environments at the point of diagnosis. The research also notes that the pediatricians were dependent upon outside resources to fully determine the child’s autism spectrum diagnosis, and they conceded that they did not provide information to parents at the onset of the diagnosis nor did they give treatment recommendations. Additional results of the study indicate that the initial training received by the pediatricians was not enough to address the needs of the children diagnosed with autism. The recommendations include: (a) hands-on training for parents, (b) ongoing additional professional development for pediatricians, (c) support groups for parents, and (d) resources immediately available for parents at the time of diagnosis.

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