Date of Award

Spring 6-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Mojdeh Bayat

Second Advisor

Thomas Noel

Third Advisor

Jennifer Walberg


This dissertation used a convergent mixed-methods survey study to examine the key components in building resilience in families with a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study involved survey responses from 333 families via online media. Using an instrument designed by the author (Family Resilience Scale – Families with Autism Measurement (FRS-FAM), this work clarified how protective factors and positive psychology work conversely to the challenges and build resilience within individual family members and the whole family to celebrate the unique gifts and qualities of each family member. The quantitative results of this study established four statistically significant protective factors that identify resilience in the families under study: positive perspective, growth, family relationships, and meaning making. The qualitative results highlight the determination of meaning making in these families and identified additional protective and risk factors influencing the daily lives of families of children with ASD. These include the child’s accomplishments and agency development, the development of understanding and appreciation of difference, family cohesion and strength, as well as the stress and hardship endured by the family. Quantitative and qualitative responses were integrated through the development of a Resilience Score (RS) that identified broad categories to compare demographic commonalities as well as provide measured context to narrative responses. Results showed that strong family relationships, positive outlook, and growth aided in countering stress and building of resilience.