Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Dawn Hunter

Second Advisor

Dr. Whitney McIntyre Miller

Third Advisor

Dr. Margie Sauceda Curwen

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Richard Rosenberg


The relationship between a father and his child on the autism spectrum (AS) is a life changing and powerful experience. However, there is a paucity in the literature about fathers and their experiences with raising a child on the AS. This research study explored the phenomenological experiences of fathers who have a child on the autism spectrum through the use of heuristic inquiry. In this study, I conducted interviews with 10 fathers whose children had an official AS diagnosis. By using Seidman’s three separate, semistructured interview method, this study highlighted fathers’ experiences and provided greater understanding into their lives. Seidman’s interview method provided opportunities for the fathers to reveal the truth in their lived experiences. They revealed their joys, sorrows, and moments that have shaped their lives. The study gathered data in key areas and are organized by the findings that emerged. These findings are organized by subquestions and include: (a) fathers’ reactions before and after receiving a diagnosis, (b) the new reality the fathers experienced, (c) the roles played by fathers in their children’s lives, (d) fathers’ views on disability, (e) the impact of the fathers’ beliefs on their views of their child and autism, (f) the experiences of fathers with two children on the AS, and (g) fathers’ experiences of personal growth. The findings in this study are significant and show the continuing commitment that fathers who have a child on the AS have regarding their children. As autism prevalence rates continue to rise, this study illustrates the need for further research on fathers who have a child on the AS.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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