The focus of this dissertation was to gain a better understanding of autism, and its effects on family life. The research gives a rich, qualitative account of what it is like to live with autism using first hand accounts as data, and what and how families are learning in the process. Using a phenomenological framework, this study was comprised of interview and observational data collected at the homes of six families with an autistic child. The data were analyzed using qualitative software (NVivo) and themes began to emerge. The themes were used to answer the question: What is the experience of living with an autistic child, and what does that experience mean? Knowledge was added to the current literature on autism in the areas of spousal support, expectation adjustment, finding joy in the ?little things,? avoidance, grieving, anxiety about the future, support systems, social withdrawal, divide and conquer, anger,embarrassment, sadness, intensity, living in the present, and ambiguity.