Date of Award

2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

College

College of Education and International Services

Program

Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Jeannie Montagano

Second Advisor

Rudolph Bailey

Third Advisor

Susan Chand

Abstract

Problem

The goal of the study was to understand factors contributing to life satisfaction of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from the perspective of positive psychology. The challenges of parenting a child with ASD have been documented extensively, with these parents experiencing higher levels of stress, depression, and lower overall mental health than parents of typically developing children. Stress and hardship can lead to mental health problems for such families. A lack of research was observed about positive outcomes for parents of children with ASD; in particular, no research was available for these parents in Trinidad and Tobago. In many developing countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, the absence of adequate resources for diagnosis, remediation, and support in the formal education system for children with special needs means that many parents and caregivers struggle to provide adequate care for their children with ASD.

Methodology

Demographic variables, FEPPTs including optimism, hope, resilience, coping flexibility and secure attachment, in addition to social support and resilience have been associated with positive life adjustment and were examined for their influence on parent’s life satisfaction. The sample size was three hundred and eighty-five parents of children with autism spectrum disorder in Trinidad and Tobago. ANOVA, Hierarchical linear regression, MANOVA, Factor analysis, Canonical correlation and Linear regression were used to analyze the relationships and interactions between independent variables and dependent variables (Life satisfaction, Flourishing, Health related quality of life (HRQoL) and Subjective happiness. --

Results

There were significant differences between different levels of family structure, education level and income level in relation to the for dependent variables. There were significant differences in various levels of income on all four dependent variables. Statistically significant relationships were found between the independent variables, the FEPPTs, and the dependent variables: HRQoL, subjective happiness, flourishing, and life satisfaction. Linear regressions depicted significant relationships between PERMA and health related quality of life, subjective happiness, flourishing and life satisfaction. iv PERMA significantly predicted Subjective happiness (β = 0.721, p < .001), Flourishing (β = 0.306, p < .001), Health Quality of Life (β = 0.158, p < .001) and Life Satisfaction (β = 0.158, p < .001). PERMA accounted for the largest variability in flourishing (74%), followed by health quality of life (59%), life satisfaction (55%) and accounted for the least variability in subjective happiness (34%). Ethnicity significantly predicted lack of social support (β = - 0.153, p < .001) while religious identity did not (p = 0 .076) and religious identity significantly predicted full social support (β = 0.131, p < .001) however ethnicity did not (p = .401).

Conclusions

The study was in alignment with many contemporary explorations and deviated primarily based on social and cultural factors, as underscored by Oishi et al (2009) who identified standards for life satisfaction judgements varying across cultures in alignment with cultural values. The analyses provided support for the hypotheses which posited the independent variables depicted significant relationships with the measures of Life satisfaction, Flourishing, Health related quality of life and Subjective happiness. The study also depicted the positive impact that social support systems have on the life satisfaction of the parents of children with ASD in Trinidad and Tobago.

Subject Area

Children with autism spectrum disorders--Trinidad and Tobago; Parents of autistic children--Trinidad and Tobago--Attitudes; Autism spectrum disorders

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