Parents’ responses to their child’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
University of Southampton, School of Psychology,
Although a significant amount of research has reported the level of parental satisfaction with the disclosure of a diagnosis, little has documented their emotional responses after the diagnosis, their perceptions of the future, and the potential impact this has on the uptake of evidence based early interventions.
The aim of this study was therefore to explore parents’ responses to their child’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in order to contribute to a greater understanding of parental experiences, to inform future practice and to help shape effective support services and intervention packages.
Using a semi-structured format, 15 parents were interviewed about receiving a diagnosis of ASD for their child in order to obtain detailed first person accounts of their experiences. The data were analysed using a thematic analysis.
Five main themes were identified. These were; (1) Positive response to a diagnosis; (2) Negative response to a diagnosis; (3) Perceptions of the future; (4) Factors possibly facilitating engagement with professional services; and (5) Factors possibly preventing engagement with professional services.
The implications of these findings for professionals involved in the diagnostic process and support services are discussed. Suggestions for future research based on the findings and limitations of this study are also identified.
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