Date of Award

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Karen Stoiber

Committee Members

Kyongboon Kwon, Margaret Barlett, Bonita Klein-Tasman


Children with autism often have disability-specific deficits such as delays in communication and social interaction, restricted interests, rigid thinking patterns, repetitive behaviors, atypical responses to sensory experiences, and challenging behaviors (Balbouni et al., 2016; Bishop et al., 2012; Chistol et al., 2017; Anixt et al., 2018). As a result, parents of children with autism face unique challenges compared to parents of neurotypical children and report high levels of stress, especially towards their child’s challenging behaviors (Stadnick et al., 2017). Parent stress has been shown to cause dysfunction in family adjustment (Keen et al., 2010). Families may seek child-focused or parent-focused interventions to improve their child’s communication, social skills, and behavior. Parents of children with autism also report unmet needs related to information about their child’s disability, behavior management, and treatment avenues (Brown et al., 2012). Due to unique deficits and their impact on parent stress, children with autism are typically the main focus of research with parent stress also being a lead interest of parent-focused research. However, the influence of parent-focused interventions on factors like family adjustment and family need is currently understudied. This quantitative survey study explored the relation between family adjustment and family need as well as the relation between specific parent-focused interventions with family adjustment and family need for a sample of 62 caregivers of school-aged children with autism. Analyses included conducting descriptives and a series of multiple regression analyses. The results suggested family adjustment was a significant predictor of family need. Specifically, increased ratings of family maladjustment were consistent with more unmet needs reported by a family. The specific type of parent-focused intervention received by a family was not significant in predicting family needs or family adjustment. Limitations, implications, and future directions are discussed.