Title

Asperger syndrome: The parental perspective of behaviors in different environments

Date of Completion

January 2006

Keywords

Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Asperger syndrome is a relatively new classification of developmental disorders within the United States added in 1994 to the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association. The prevalence of diagnosed cases appears on the rise due perhaps to specific criteria now available for diagnosis. The literature suggests that children with Asperger syndrome grapple with weaknesses that trigger behaviors that may manifest differently in the home as compared with other environments.^ This qualitative, multi-case study examines the perspectives of eight mothers of children with Asperger syndrome who share their stories of behaviors exhibited by their children within different environments. The families in this study represent contrasting demographic backgrounds. The ages of the children with Asperger syndrome were purposefully selected to, as evenly as possible represent the age range between six to fourteen years of age.^ The study examines the mothers' perceptions of behaviors exhibited at home compared to those exhibited outside the home. In addition, the study explores the mothers' perceptions of the reasons behavioral differences may exist across divergent environments. Finally, an across case analysis reveals a model, a representation for the behavioral differences that occur across environments.^ The study began with a conceptual framework, a structure, consisting of the literature presently available on Asperger syndrome and the position of the researcher; the background the researcher brings to the study. As the data was gathered and analyzed simultaneously, within and across cases, an analytic framework developed consisting of three components: major internal mechanisms within the individual child that affect behaviors, responses of the children to conditions within different environments, and responses of others to the children's behaviors. Subcategories within each component emerged and revealed an interrelationship among the three components with regard to the responsive behaviors of the children in this study. As a rationale for these behaviors began to surface across cases, a model for the behaviors of these children developed. It is a representation of the interrelationship among the three components and includes behavioral response patterns that further define the interrelationships that emerged across cases.^