Communication ETDs

Publication Date



The process of diagnosis delivery of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a topic area that has not been given ample attention by academic researchers. Some researchers have focused on delivering bad news (i.e.Buckman, 1992; Gordon, 2008; & Myers, 1983). Yet, no communication researcher has utilized communication theory and/or method to focus on diagnosis delivery of ASD. This study expands this area of focus in academic research using a communication perspective that provides an understanding of the process of diagnosis delivery of ASD at the Center for Developmental Disabilities'(CDD) Early Childhood Evaluation Program (ECEP)--New Mexico's number one center for providing a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). There are two goals that guide the study. The general goal is to investigate how professionals that are a part of the ECEP at the CDD at New Mexico's UCEDD at the UNM can co-construct an effective and efficient process of delivering diagnosis of ASD to parent(s), caregiver(s), and/or family member(s). Another goal is to modify and utilize the existing theory of the CMM for an academic research setting and provide another possible methodological approach for other research studies. To attain the goals, this research utilizes the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) as a theory and a method. The theoretical framework provides the communication perspective and understanding that the researcher is a part of the process that facilitates the process of understanding. Several concepts of the theory assist in making sense of the process, including: logical force, a communication perspective, stories, resources and practices, cosmopolitan communication, co-construction, reflexivity, and coordination, coherence, and meaning. The method provides several heuristics to collect and analyze data. The SEAVA model (Storyboarding, Enriching, Analyzing, Visioning, and Acting) is the main CMM model used in this research. Other CMM heuristics include: the daisy model, the hierarchy model, the Serpentine model, and the LUUUTT model. The researcher's data collection methods included: observations, individual interviews, and a group interview. Through a reflexive process, the study explains how the diagnostic team creates meaning by identifying their communication patterns, rules of symbol use, rules of meaning and action, strengths and weakness of the process, and individual and team goals.




Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorders, CMM, Informing Patients, Health Care Teams, Diagnosis Delivery, Bad News

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Schuetz, Janice

Second Advisor

Shields, Julie

First Committee Member (Chair)

Littlejohn, Stephen

Second Committee Member

Bentley, Joshua

Third Committee Member

Qi, Huaqing