Out from the halls of theacademy, a researcher is born, handed down knowledge from mentors and those who came before them, this is what is called the academictree. Now, I can trace my academic lineage from branches of a tree, that are held by those who have come before me and those who have come before my mentors. The process of becoming a researcher begins with a thought and a question or a series of questions. My questions come from the branch of constructivism. My epistemology is expressed through the discourse that “truth or meaning, comes into existence in and out of our engagement with the realities of our world. There is no meaning without a mind, therefore, meaning is not discovered, but constructed” (Crotty, 1998, pp. 4-5). Constructionist grounded theory is constructed through the gathering of data, interviewing, observation, journal, and memo writing (Charmaz, 2014).
In the fall of 2017, I conducted a grounded theory pilot study on: Fathers who have a child or young adult on the Autism Spectrum(AS). With the rise in autism spectrum diagnosis, as of spring 2018the Centers for Disease Control reported an increase in the prevalence rates of autism in children to1 in 59 (Baio et al., 2018; Durkin et al.,). There is a paucity in the research examining the role a father plays in their child’s life, even thoughfathers are playing significant and vital roles in the raising of their children (Durkin et al., 2010; Bent, Barbaro, & Dissanayake, 2016; Frye, 2016; Hannon & Hannon, 2017). The research question that governed the study was: What are the experiences of being a father to a child/young adult on the AS?
With limited data regarding this subject, the use of grounded theory allowed for themes to emerge from the data and it was analyzed. This thematic discovery enabled the researcher to focus on field-specific results, while creating a comparative lens for analysis (Charmaz, 2014).
The data collection process and theory development consist of field observations, interviews, memo, and journal notetaking, which result in the formation of theory. Grounded theory is innovative, allowing the researcher the space to build and generate new theory while addressing the howand why constructionist questions which drive my study and curious mind.
The themes in the study’s themes included (1), the reconciliation of preconceived ideas and beliefs of parenthood before birth of a child and after the birth of a child who is subsequently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum, and (2), fathers experiencesandinner journey resulting from their child’s diagnosis of AS.
The pilot study had a small group of fathers who I interviewed only once. This pilot study was part of a project in my Grounded Theory Class the fall of 2017, taught by Dr. McIntyre Miller in the Attlah College of Educational Studiesat Chapman Univeristy. Through her mentoring and teaching, I conducted my first study. To sit with another and ask questions connecting to their lives and the lives of their children/young adults was an honor. This study opened my eyes and heart to the research process apart from sitting in class and reading research studies. I discovered, it is a journey in becoming a researcher. As a result of conducting my first pilot study, I still had questions regarding fathers and their experiences of having a child on the AS. This topic is now the focus of my dissertation which will begin spring of 2019. The voices of fathers who have a child/young adult on the AS need to be heard and brought forth. To be a researcher is a continual journey, one I continue to embrace.
A Blog by Lisa Boskovich, 4th year Doctoral Student and soon to be Doctoral Candidate, Graduate Research Assistant for The Thompson Policy Institute on Disability and Autism.
Baio J, Wiggins L, Christensen DL, et al. (2018). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder Among children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014. MMWR Surveill Summ 2018; 67(No. SS-6):1– 23. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6706a1
Bent, C. C., Barbaro, J. J., & Dissanayake. (2017). Change in autism diagnoses prior to and Following the introduction of DSM-5. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 47(1), 163-171. doi: 10.1007/s10803-016-2942-y.
Charmaz, K. (2008). Constructionism and the grounded theory. In J.A. Holsetein & J.F. (Eds.),
Handbook of Constructionist Research (pp.397-412). New York: The Guliford Press.
Crotty, M. (1998). Introduction: The research process. In M. Crotty (Ed.), The foundations of social research: Meaning and perspective in the research process(pp. 1-17). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Durkin, M., Wingate, M., Kirby, R. S., Pettygrove, S., Cunniff, C., Schulz, E., & … Yeargin- Allsopp, M. (2010). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010. Mmwr Surveillance Summaries, 67(6), 1-23. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6706a1.htm
Frye, F. (2016). Fathers experience with autism spectrum disorder: Nursing implications. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 30 (5). 453-463. doi:10.10.1016/j/pedhc2015
Hannon, M. D., & Hannon, L. V. (2017). Fathers’ orientation to their children’s autism diagnosis: A grounded theory study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(7). 2265- 2274. doi.10.1007/s10803-017-3149-6