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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Roberta Olson


psychology of parents of autistic children, services for parents of autistic children, family relationships of autisitc children


The purpose of this study was to determine the perceived needs of parents with children with autism and compare their needs with several social, economic, and demographic variables. A convenience sample of 86 families, whose children had been diagnosed with autism at the University Affiliated Program (UAP) clinic in Vermillion, South Dakota between 1987 and 1995, was utilized for this study. Each family was mailed a Family Needs Survey, a demographic data sheet, and a letter of introduction with an explanation of informed consent.
A total of 22 surveys were returned to the clinic. Only ten surveys could be used for this study.
A descriptive statistical analysis was conducted using frequencies, means, and modes. The limited number of surveys prevented more complex statistical analysis.
Results indicated the greatest area of need for parents with children with autism was the need for information, particularly information related to future available services. Fifty percent also indicated a desire to talk with other parents of children with autism. The age of the parents and the number of children in the family did not seem related to the number or types of needs expressed by parents. There was, however, a marked increase in the number of needs for these families, all of whom had a child with autism who was ten-year—old and all of whom were diagnosed seven years ago. Interestingly, all three of these families also had the highest income and education of all respondents. Further research with a large sample size is recommended.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Parents of autistic children -- Psychology
Parents of autistic children -- Services for
Autistic children -- Family relationships



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1995 Linda Bird. All rights reserved