Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Jean Bachman DSN


Dawn Garzon

Shawn Pohlman

Rebecca McCathren


Background Information: The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has dramatically risen over the last decades. It is known that children with ASD visit health care providers (HCP) more frequently than typically developing peers. Given behavioral and medical complexities of these children, mothers may experience barriers in this process. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of mothers’ experiences of taking their children to the HCP. Aims of this study were to reveal mothers’ concerns related to these experiences, examine resources and barriers affecting the quality of the visit, and discover more about the effect of autism on mothering. Methodology: This interpretive phenomenological study interviewed 11 mothers of preschool age children with a diagnosis of ASD. Interviews were conducted using guides developed by the researcher. Transcripts were analyzed using interpretive sessions, paradigm cases, and thematic analysis. Data Analysis: Three main themes emerged from the transcripts in this study. These themes included feelings that HCPs do not understand the complexity of caring for a child with ASD, marginalization of mothers by the HCP, and a transformation of the mothering role that occurs during the time from diagnosis to early intervention. Implications for Practice: The need for the HCP to create child-specific profiles emerged from this study. This profile should include information that will enhance the delivery of health care for the child with ASD. Details and necessary information for the creation of this profile are addressed in this paper.

OCLC Number


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Nursing Commons