Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Major

Nursing

Research Sponsor

Dr. Christine Heifner Graor

First Reader

Marilyn Perkowski

Second Reader

Diane Lorenzen

Abstract

The healthcare setting can be intimidating for any child. For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), in particular, this setting can cause anxiety and elicit disruptive behavior. The reactions of children with ASD to healthcare settings have not been widely studied. This study explores the lived experience of caregivers of children with ASD related to healthcare providers and environments. A qualitative phenomenological approach and methods guide the study. Purposive sampling was utilized at a resource center to identify and recruit participants fulfilling inclusion criteria. Sample size consisted of four female and two male adults. Semi-structured interviews were performed and voice recorded. The interviews were then analyzed and revealed themes like sensory considerations, acknowledgement that every child is different, caregiver responsibilities, needed preparation and organization, and the need for more compassion, understanding, and knowledge within the healthcare setting. In conclusion, it was found that there is a strong need for more education and compassion in healthcare providers when working with children with ASD.

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