Date of Conferral







Robin Friedman


With an increase in diagnosis rates of autism in Trinidad, more parents of children with autism, especially single fathers, face numerous challenges on a daily basis. There is a lack of research on this topic and therefore an inadequate understanding of the experiences of Trinidadian single fathers as primary caregivers for children with autism. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and depict the lived experiences of single fathers of children with autism. Social support theory was the guiding conceptual framework to explore and understand how single fathers effectively manage their daily challenges. Ten single fathers from Southern Trinidad were recruited through criterion sampling and they engaged in semi-structured interviews individually. Moustakas's steps to phenomenological analysis were used to analyze the data. There were seven major themes that emerged from describing the lived experience of single fathers of children with autism: (a) challenges, (b) social support systems, (c) day-to-day experiences, (d) the role of the father within the family, (e) effects on social life, (f) sibling reactions, and (g) adaptive coping mechanisms. This study may engender social change, as the findings may be used to support single fathers to continue to provide care for their children. This study could result in improved understanding and support for their children both at home, in school, and in the community. The findings will be available to other fathers who share similar experiences. Special education service providers may gain further information to improve their services to families of children with disabilities.