Publication Date


Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Daryl L. Canham

Second Advisor

Virginia Young-Cureton


autism, parents, social support, coping, school nursing


The increased incidence of autism in children impacts families, educators, and health professionals. A descriptive survey design was used to obtain responses from parents of autistic children in public schools. Data collection instruments included The Social Support Index, SSI (McCubbin, Patterson, and Glynn, 1982), and The Family Crisis Oriented Personal Evaluation Scale, F-COPES (McCubbin, Olson, and Larsen, 1981 ). The majority of parents of autistic children perceived that they had support within their families and communities. One half of the families identified serious stressors in addition to autism. Acquiring social support and reframing were the coping strategies used most frequently. The school nurse is in a position to provide support to parents of children with autism and special needs, and integrate coping and social support assessments into practice.