Date of Conferral

1-1-2010

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Aaron Deris

Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe the influence culture has on the decisions Hispanic parents make to aid their children with autism. The research problems addressed are the influences culture may have on how professionals and external family members affect the choices parents make. Cultural and family systems theories formed the conceptual framework for the study. Researchers have found that cultural factors may lead to lower rates of diagnosis in Hispanic children with autism and parents' lack of knowledge of therapies and practices used to treat autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Five research questions guided this study. The focus of the first two questions was how culture may affect families seeking assistance; the focus of the third question pertained to how professionals play a part in therapies chosen; the fourth question focused in on the therapies families are choosing to aid their child with ASD. Finally, the focus of the last question was the involvement of external family members. Themes were highlighted, coded, and interpreted using interpretative analysis. The major themes found through triangulation included professional influences, concerns for children's futures as adults, parental involvement, and personalismo/familismo. The outcomes of the study demonstrate the influence professionals have on the families and the choices families make to aide their children with ASD. The findings can promote positive social change by aiding to inform professionals of the pinnacle role they play in the lives of Hispanic families with children with ASD. These finding will better aide professionals by helping them to understand the Hispanic culture as it may relate to having a child with ASD and thus assist families to understand and acquire needed services.