Satisfaction with formal support and education for children with autism spectrum disorder: the voices of the parents

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Abstract

Introduction

The aim of the present study was to identify and describe factors associated with variations in the level of parental satisfaction with formal support and education for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Flanders.

Methods

Participants were recruited by a mailing from a diagnostic centre for pre-schoolers and by advertisements dispersed in the Flemish parent organization for ASD and in services and special schools. The sample consisted of 244 parents of children with ASD (age range: 2.69–17.81 years, male/female sex ratio 4: 1). The data were collected using a questionnaire on experiences with education and support, which was compiled for the purpose of this study. The data resulting from the questionnaire were supplemented with information obtained from semi-structured in-depth interviews with a stratified sample of 15 parents.

Results and conclusions

The study revealed that parents experienced difficulties with the diagnostic process, with support and education provided by mainstream settings and with the accessibility of autism-specific service provisions. Conversely, parents reported to be satisfied with the quality of autism-specific support and education. Predictors of overall satisfaction were parental involvement in formal support, knowledge of available service provisions and time between first consultation and final diagnosis. Practical implications of the results are discussed.

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