Date of Award


Degree Name

Leadership Studies


College of Education and Professional Development

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Feon Smith, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Bobbi Nicholson

Third Advisor

Dr. Marianna Linz


There is a lack of research that specifies the long-term effects on a child’s language development when prenatally exposed to opioids (Fill et al.,2018; Rutherford et al., 2022). Despite this, children prenatally exposed to opioids are more likely to be referred for, qualify for, and receive therapy services secondary to developmental delays and speech/language deficits. (Kaltenbach et al., 2018). Stigma continues to be a barrier to the initiation of early intervention services for children prenatally exposed to opioids (Levickis et al., 2020; Livingston et al., 2011; Peacock-Chambers et al., 2020). This phenomenological study aims to understand the perceptions of the stigma mothers with a history of substance use disorder (SUD) experience when seeking educational or health services for their children. When educators and providers are informed and understand the stigma mothers perceive, relationships and collaboration can be improved. Purposive, criterion sampling was utilized to conduct one-on-one, semi-structured interviews with five mothers. A predetermined, open-ended question set served as the instrument for the study. Transcripts of the interviews were analyzed via interpretative phenomenological analysis which allowed micro-level reading and understanding of the participants’ multidimensional accounts of their lived experiences (Smith & Osborn, 2015). Results revealed the following three themes and 10 subthemes: need for belonging (family and childhood experiences, identity and self-perceptions, relationships and healing), equitable and accessible care (stigma and discrimination, role of fear in decision making, advocacy and love for their children, challenges and barriers), and resilience and personal growth (recognition of own stigma and discrimination, spiritual and community support and positive change and stability).


Language acquisition -- Children.


Child development.

Children of prenatal substance abuse.

Substance abuse.

Speech therapy.