Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Stephen B. Hillman


The purpose of this study was to explore how caretakers of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are able to move through adverse circumstances with which they are confronted while raising their child with considerable developmental needs and challenges. Family resilience in this study includes family quality of life, locus of control, sense of coherence, perceived stress, uncertainty, severity, and demands. The participants in this study were 153 parents of children diagnosed with ASD. The parents were members of the Autism Society of Oakland County. The participants completed a survey comprised of six scales (Parental Concerns Questionnaire, Perceived Stress Scale, Orientation to Life Questionnaire, Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale, Family Quality of Life, and a short demographic survey) using SurveyMonkey. Three research questions were developed for this study. The results of the statistical analysis indicated that four variables, uncertainty in illness, perceived stress, age of parent, and average socioeconomic status accounted for 33% of the variance in family quality of life. Results of the mediation analysis used to answer the second research question used control variables (locus of control and orientation to life) as the mediating variable. The results indicated that orientation to life was partially mediating the relationship between uncertainty and family quality of life. The third research question used the control variables (locus of control and orientation to life) as the mediating variable in the relationship between perceived severity of disability and family quality of life. The results were not statistically significant. Because of a predominantly high socioeconomic status among the parents of children diagnosed with ASD, further study is needed using participants across the socioeconomic continuum. Additional research using instruments with better psychometric attributes for mastery, control, and stress might provide more information on parenting children with ASD and family quality of life.