Date of Award

Spring 2015



First Advisor

Dr. Tracy Masterson


Although parents of children with autism often feel stigmatized or judged by bystanders in public situations, the present research attempted to translate these individual reports into empirical data. Ninety-nine students from the John Carroll University Psychology pool participated in this 2 x 2 between subjects design that manipulated whether an individual was informed or uninformed of a diagnosis of autism when observing a child with autism having a temper-tantrum. Then, all the participants rated the parent and child using The Parenting Scale: a measure of dysfunctional parenting in discipline situations and The Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory. Next, all the participants were informed of the autism diagnosis and watched an educational video that was either from the perspective of a family or of a professional. Finally, the participants responded to the same set of scales in addition to a brief demographic survey.

Participants rated the mother and child more negatively at pre-test when they were uninformed of the autism diagnosis. Additionally, the researcher found that both educational videos diminished participants’ negative judgments of both the parent and the child compared to their initial responses. This study suggests that bystanders do indeed judge parents more harshly when they are uninformed of an autism spectrum diagnosis. However, education decreases these judgments.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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