Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Karen Riley, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kathy Green

Third Advisor

Gloria Miller

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer A. Reich


Autism, Parent training, Web-based support


Research has indicated that parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) experience more feelings of isolation, depression and stress than those of children with other disorders including ADHD and Down Syndrome. While these feelings are especially elevated in parents living in rural communities who may have limited access to services, they are also present in those living in urban areas but are restricted due to challenges with childcare, transportation, finances and time. Furthermore, research posits that services for parents of the newly diagnosed or of younger children are abundant while services and education for parents of adolescents are hard to access regardless of location. This study explored the use of technology as a viable option for providing education and emotional support to parents of adolescents with ASDs and may assist in guiding future studies of this nature. Group sessions were facilitated remotely using video-conference technology and covered the topics of stress reduction, IEP's, puberty, and the transition to adulthood. This study employed a mixed methods design that utilized a concurrent triangulation approach. Within this approach, quantitative and qualitative data were collected concurrently and then compared to determine if there was convergence, differences, or some combination. The quantitative tools included, first, the Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents (SIPA) which was used to measure any change in stress levels that occurred throughout the treatment. Pretest/posttest measures were then used to measure knowledge acquisition. The data gathered from these tools were then analyzed using a t test for paired samples. The qualitative phase employed a questionnaire that obtained anecdotal information regarding participants' experiences with and preferences towards parent groups; their feelings of depression, isolation, stress related to parenting a child with ASD; their confidence regarding the topics of stress reduction, IEP's, puberty, and the transition to adulthood; and their experiences within the web-based group setting. This qualitative information was used to look for themes to begin to understand how parents of adolescents with ASD may benefit from groups provided using Internet technology.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Eric Todd Zimmerman


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

305 p.