Date of Graduation

Spring 2017

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Major

Exercise Science - PrePhysical Therapy

Research Sponsor

Laura Richardson

First Reader

Dr. Ronald Otterstetter

Second Reader

Stephanie Davis-Dieringer

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to collect qualitative data on the different stresses and burdens associated with being a caregiver for an autistic individual, and discover strategies of stress relief for caregivers. A total of four autism support group meetings hosted by the Autism Society of Greater Akron were attended and observed, with documentation of the discussion between the moderator of the meeting and the caregivers in attendance. Through observation of these meetings, common themes of stress in caregivers were revealed. These include: difficulty with the diagnosis process and finding medical treatment; seeking additional information on available medical treatments; becoming a “fit” caregiver; finding the right specialized education and services; funding the care and education of their child; difficulty finding time, resources, and maintaining a schedule; special needs and considerations; and the future of his or her child. Stress relief was typically sought through social support and therapy services, but the knowledge and awareness of these resources among caregivers was limited. Support groups tended to offer some relief to stress, while therapy services, including occupational therapy, offered great value and relief to the autistic individual and the caregiver.

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