Date of Conferral
Previous studies indicated that parents raising children with autism (CWA) experience higher rates of stress; however, no qualitative studies have addressed low-income parents' lived experiences of raising CWA. The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to understand the challenges that low-income parents of CWA face daily within the framework of family systems theory and biopsychosocial theory. Research questions focused on the impact of income and the core symptoms of autism (social deficits, communication deficits, and repetitive behaviors) on marital and interpersonal relationships. Semistructured interviews with 13 parents were conducted, and transcripts were analyzed for themes using a 4-step process. Results indicated some negative impacts on parents' marital, social, and professional relationships. Themes included higher levels of stress and depression, decreased social interaction, less personal and professional satisfaction, and lower levels of marital satisfaction. Findings may be used to increase empathy and understanding of parents' challenges and improve access to resources and services required for CWA and their parents to enhance their quality of life.