In conducting this study, the ultimate goal was to determine whether parents and other caregivers of individuals with disabilities are experiencing higher levels of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms as compared to the general population. Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), intellectual disabilities and other disabilities are more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors such as hitting, kicking, biting, screaming, and self-injurious behavior. Research has also shown that parents of children with special needs have higher levels of stress, and special education teachers are leaving the field due to burnout. In addition to comparing PTSD levels of these caregivers with the general population, results of parents in this sample size were compared with the results of other caregivers. Using the PTSD Checklist – Civilian version (PCL-C), a self-report questionnaire, PTSD total scores, the three subscale scores which included re-experiencing, avoidance/numbing, and hyperarousal were analyzed. In total PCL-C scores and the subscale scores, the respondents’ results were statistically significant, with a mean score of 46.7 as compared to 29 with the general population. In addition, results demonstrated that parents and other caregivers that worked with an individual with a disability who engaged in aggressive behavior had a higher mean score than those who didn’t among this population. When divided into two groups, parents had a higher mean than the other caregivers. Future research can be done on PTSD treatments for this specific population without having to remove them from their environments in order to help reduce burnout and attrition among caregivers of individuals with disabilities.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





posttraumatic stress disorder, behavior, aggression, disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, parents, intellectual disabilities, mental health disorders



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Education Commons