Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Jason J. Campbell

Second Advisor

Judith McKay

Third Advisor

Toran J. Hansen


The field of autism in epidemiology has received much attention in recent times especially as scientific information evolves on the causes and impact of autism spectrum disorder. Just as medical research is conducting to arrest the growing pace of autism with current research indicating one out of every 68 children in the United States diagnosed autistic, the field of the social science has equally produced some literature on the subject. Much of the social science and epidemiological information in the field has bothered on framing the concept (Murray, 2008), historical dimension and causation of the disease, and its associative influence on family (Grinker, 2007). However, not much has been done to assess the phenomenon from the point of view of conflict analysis and resolution (Sabatelli & Waldron, 1995) to fully understand their sense of conflict ambiguity and ambiguous loss of a child with autism (Cridland et al. 2014; O'Brien, 2007).

This research therefore attempted to bridge that gap through reflexive analysis of transcripts from phenomenological interviewing of 19 participants comprised of 14 single parents and 5 married couples with autistic children. While the primary focus of the research was Single parents, married couples served comparative analytical purpose of data validation. Theories of phenomenology, Resilience, human needs, stereotypes & identity, relative deprivation, attribution, critical theory, ambiguous loss, etc. operationalize to frame the research language for hermeneutical transformative interpretation and social action about the phenomenon. Results from the study indicate conflict behavioral experience, a burden curve and resilient risk factors associated with caring for an autistic child leading to possible crisis borderline.

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