Date of Conferral
Having a child with autism results in a unique set of challenges for both parents and siblings. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) has significant empirical support demonstrating its effectiveness as a treatment for children with autism. However, effective behavioral interventions should also consider how the family is affected. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of 8 parents of children with autism who have received ABA treatment and their perceptions of how the family system is impacted by ABA outcomes, specifically focusing on parental well-being and sibling relationship quality. A family systems theoretical framework and phenomenological research method were used. Data were analyzed using content analysis to find the common themes that emerged, which were: parents of children with autism face a high level of stress, but ABA treatment results in a decrease of some sources of stress. Having a child with autism produces strains in family relationships; however, ABA treatment outcomes can help with improved communication between spouses and interactions between siblings. Parents acknowledge challenges associated with ABA treatment but believe that the benefits are worth it. Insights gained from this study were meaningful and practical for professionals who provide ABA treatment to children with autism, as well as for parents of children with autism who may be interested in seeking ABA treatment. Positive social change resulted from the identification of perceived benefits of ABA treatment, such as reduced parental stress and improved relationships amongst all members of the family.