Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Robin A. Friedman

Abstract

Autism has no cure, but early and appropriate diagnosis and intervention may increase outcomes for individuals affected. The level of awareness, acceptance, and support for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Nigeria is very low. There is a gap in the literature regarding a detailed account of the experiences of parents raising children with ASD within the Nigerian environment and culture. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the perceptions and lived experiences of mothers raising children with ASD in Nigeria including the impact of Nigerian culture on their experiences. Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory was the guiding conceptual framework for this study. Ten mothers of children with autism were recruited through purposeful sampling and interviewed using a semistructured interview format. Moustakas's steps to phenomenological research analysis were used to analyze the data and report emergent themes. The 8 themes that emerged from the data were low societal awareness about ASD, cultural attitudes and acceptance about ASD, neglect and abuse, inadequate services, impact on parents and other family members, refusing to be isolated by society, nature of support, and the way forward. The findings of this study can contribute to ASD awareness in Nigeria through the experiences reported. Positive social change may result from this increased awareness including improved acceptance and treatment, and policy changes or service improvements to support families living with this disorder in Nigeria.

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