Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Special Education

Committee Chair

Kimberly Floyd

Committee Co-Chair

Michael Mayton

Committee Member

Neal Shambaugh

Committee Member

Colleen Wood-Fields


Families with individuals with special needs face many different struggles such as identifying needs and/or appropriate supports, accessing those supports, and then locating providers to help implement those supports (Boehm & Carter, 2016). These individuals may need continuous support to live meaningful and productive lives outside of the classroom. As students leave the classroom, the need for addressing these struggles becomes of greater value and difficulty for families. This is especially true in more rural areas due to lack of services. The following research questions were utilized during this study: What services have been used outside of the classroom to address the needs of your child? What barriers have you encountered when attempting to access these services? What changes in your child's behavior have occurred since having access to the necessary supports? A case study interview was conducted with family members of two individuals that have been diagnosed with Autism, a Moderate Intellectual Disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Intermittent Explosive Disorder in a more rural setting. In regards to services used outside of the classroom to address individual needs, the study found that the initial experience with accessing supports and the process of determining service acquisition was very emotional and stressful for both families. Barriers encountered when attempting to access the appropriate supports outside of the classroom became frustrating due to a lack of understanding of how to appropriately locate the services available, as well as fully understanding the diagnoses rendered. The changes in the participant's behaviors were less stressful once having access to the necessary supports, and the family's abilities to understand their child's needs was also improved. Implication of the study is that supports provided more knowledge which in turn provided a better understanding from family members.