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Presentation Time: 11:30-11:50
Home University: UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Mentor: Dr. Yuliana Rodriguez-Vongsavanh, School of Education
Program: McNair
Research Title: Examining Differences in Family Empowerment Among Hispanic and White Families of Children with Autism

Given the scarcity of current research addressing the needs of Hispanic children with autism and their families, the purpose of the current study was to examine the impact of ecological microsystems on outcomes for Hispanic students with autism based on their caregivers’ feelings of family empowerment. Differences in family empowerment among Hispanic and White families of children with autism were observed, as well as potential predictors of family empowerment. This study used data collected by the Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (CSESA), in which parent participants (N=296) volunteered to complete a variety of surveys and interviews. Family information including household income, caregiver education, and minutes per month of support services were utilized to test their predictability of family empowerment levels, and differences across Hispanic and White families were examined. Findings pointed to the important role that ethnicity can play in predicting family empowerment. However, further research is needed to better understand the experiences of Hispanic families of children with autism, as well as their cultural perspective on family empowerment. This study highlights important implications for researchers, school partners, as well as practitioners to consider in working with Hispanic families of children with autism.