Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Celeste Jones, PsyD, Chair

Second Advisor

Mary Peterson, PhD

Third Advisor

Mark McMinn, PhD


Research on trauma and adversity has become increasingly focused on factors associated with posttraumatic growth (PTG). One of the factors identified in research that is associated with PTG is world assumptions, implicit assumptions about the world that facilitate a sense of security. One theory is that trauma and adversity prompt a shift in world assumptions, which in turn influences the development of PTG. While this research body has included various populations (military veterans, cancer survivors, bereaved parents, natural disaster survivors), there has been little research on the relationship between world assumptions and PTG for parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a subset of the population that is chronically highly stressed. Parenting children with ASD often involves a shift from what a parent envisioned their life would be like, to the formation of new ideals, and adjustment to new (and often more challenging) demands.

This study sought to explore how world assumptions influence PTG in parents of children with ASD. Surveys were completed by 92 parents of children with ASD, including measures of world assumptions and PTG. It was hypothesized that all three domains of world assumptions (worthiness, benevolence, and meaningfulness) would be predictive of PTG. Results indicated that meaningfulness was the only significant predictor of the three factors, and that benevolence and worthiness were not predictive of PTG in parents of children with ASD. These findings suggest that autism parents fare best and demonstrate PTG when they view events and circumstances in their lives as comprehensible.

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