Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child Development


The diagnosis of a child with a special need can be an emotional and important time for parents. The existing research on the subject is decades old, limited in scope, and does not capture the current context. This is a qualitative interview study done with 24 families of children aged three to five who have been diagnosed as having a moderate to profound special need. The semi-structured interviews asked mothers, and some fathers, to tell the story of their child's diagnosis process. The data revealed that the process is very individual for each family. The results are shared in the form of five case studies, pattern models, and cross-sectional findings across interviews. The major findings were that professionals play an important role in the diagnosis process for families, that parents often believe the diagnosis process lasts a long time with three quarters of the families believing the process to still be ongoing for them, and that parental satisfaction with the process, as was studied in the previous literature, is an inaccurate measure of the process for parents.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.