Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Gragg, Marcia


Autism Spectrum Disorder, Children, Coping strategies, Parents, Stress, Stress-Related Growth




The present study used the Organismic Valuing Theory as a theoretical framework to investigate the relationship and predictive ability of internal coping strategies and external support with perceived stress related growth (SRG) for mothers and fathers raising children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Positive reframing coping, active coping, perceived social support, and low levels of stress predicted perceived SRG. The construct of perceived SRG was also found to be different from internal coping strategies. A second objective of this study examined the similarities and differences in parenting stress, coping strategies, perceived social support and SRG of mother-father couples raising children diagnosed with ASD. Mothers reported more stress and perceived SRG and also used active, instrumental support, planning, and self-blame coping strategies more than fathers. Fathers reported higher perceived support from their significant others when compared to mothers. Overall, the majority of mothers and fathers in the present study indicated that they have achieved growth in parenting children with ASD and this process was organic and occurred over a period of time. Implications of SRG as a result of parenting children with ASD are discussed for parents and professionals.