"love him and everything else will fall into place": An analysis of narratives of African-american fathers of children with autism spectrum disorders

Open Access
Hannon, Michael D
Graduate Program:
Counselor Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 29, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Richard Hazler, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Richard Hazler, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Elizabeth Mellin, Committee Member
  • Deirdre Elizabeth Mary O'sullivan, Committee Member
  • Kathleen Mary Collins, Committee Member
  • autism
  • fathers
  • counseling
  • African-American
This exploratory qualitative dissertation analyzed the narratives of six African-American fathers of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Contributors were identified via snowball sampling and data were collected using in-depth interviewing and analyzed using analysis of narratives. Findings are presented via individual case presentations and with cross-case comparisons, utilizing emergent theme analysis to highlight themes across the fathers’ narratives. Findings suggest all of the fathers engage in a form of assessment of themselves, their resources, and their environments when describing their experiences as African-American fathers of children with ASDs. The fathers’ description of their life histories and learning about fatherhood yielded two themes of intentional engagement and ecological stressors, with some additional subthemes. The fathers’ description of being African-American fathers of children with ASDs yielded two shared themes of experiencing an orientation process and an adjustment process. This description also included several subthemes. The fathers’ descriptions of the meaning they attach to being African-American fathers of children with ASDs yielded a theme of self-assessment. Implications for counseling practice, counseling research, and counselor education are discussed.