Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gayle M. Roux


The purpose of this oral history study was to describe the lived experiences of mothers of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and to further inform the Theory of Inner Strength in Women (TIS) (Dingley & Roux, 2014). Postmodern feminist oral history methods were used to answer the research questions which included: 1) What are the lived experiences of mothers of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? and 2) How do these experiences further inform TIS?

Interviews were manually coded directly onto the digital audio files using NVivo11Plus qualitative data management software. Three chronologic phases were identified among the 10 narrators interviewed for the study, including in the beginning, everyday ASD, and afterward. Overarching themes identified for each chronologic phase. The phase afterward only occurred after a chronologic, physical, or imagined distance from day-to-day activities and responsibilities of parenting a child with ASD. Mothers of children with ASD who participated in this oral history study did not achieve the outcome of the TIS, of living a new normal if they were not had not had the chronologic, physical, or imagined separation from day-to-day parenting that mothers in the afterward phase did. They did, however, tell stories which illustrated dimensions of inner strength.

The findings were consistent with previous research related to mothers of children diagnosed with ASD, but also makes a unique contribution in terms of implications for nursing practice and recommendations for policy. The data collected for the study has also been entered into the historical record for use by future qualified researchers.