Purdue University Graduate School
McGuire_Thesis_Final.pdf (545.16 kB)

Impact of Differentiation of Self and Racial/Ethnic Identity on Internalized Stigma in Parental Caregivers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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posted on 2021-05-05, 15:54 authored by Jessica R McGuireJessica R McGuire
Due to the unique experiences and needs of parents with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), (i.e., child’s limited functional ability; increased duration and extent of caretaking), parents of children with ASD often experience affiliate stigma. Affiliate stigma is the internalized cognitive, affective, and behavioral impact of association with marginalized populations, in this case individuals diagnosed with a mental illness or a developmental disability such as ASD (Mak & Cheung, 2008). Outside of differences in provider-caregiver interactions (Mandell & Novak, 2005; Palmer et al., 2010), little research has explored the impact of racial and ethnic identity on ASD caregiving experiences. Research exploring differentiation of self in parental caregivers is also sparse. Differentiation is conceptualized as the way individuals think about themselves in relation to others. Optimal differentiation is characterized by emotional interdependence with others -- that is maintaining a state of connectedness without emotional over-involvement (Kerr & Bowen, 1988). To address these gaps in the literature, a self-report survey measuring affiliate stigma, differentiation of self and racial/ethnic identity was completed by 147 parents of children diagnosed with ASD. Participants identifying as a racial/ethnic minority made up 36.7% of this study’s sample. Results from a hierarchical regression analysis suggests that higher differentiation of self predicts greater affiliate stigma. Identity as a racial or ethnic minority had no significant impact on experiencing affiliate stigma.


Purdue University Northwest Graduate Research Award


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Child Development and Family Studies

Campus location

  • Hammond

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Anne Edwards

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Kevin Hynes

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Brie Turns