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MCDD Study Provides Insight into Challenges Facing Parents of Children with ASD

The July 2012 issue of the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities will feature a study conducted by the MCDD staff Dr. Christopher Smith and Benjamin Zablotsky. The article, titled “An Evaluation of School Involvement and Satisfaction of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” reports the results of their study that examined data from over 10,000 households in a national education survey. The study fills a notable gap in the current literature by being the first population-based examination of the relationship between parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and education professionals, including how involved these parents are in their children’s education and how satisfied they are with the services their children receive. 

The authors found that parents of children with ASDs were more likely to have attended a parent-teacher conference and to have met with the school guidance counselor than parents of children in the general education population. These parents were also actively involved in helping their children with homework and were generally dissatisfied with the level of communication provided from the school. Children with ASDs who presented with comorbid disabilities had less involved parents, as well as parents who were less satisfied with the school. There was a significant positive correlation found between the level of parent involvement and the level of satisfaction with the school.

The study provides insight into the challenges faced by parents raising children with ASDs and the inherent difficulties in ensuring their children receive the school services necessary to reach their full potential. The need for schools to actively engage parents of children with disabilities is paramount, particularly when developing an Individual Education Program. An engaged parent is more likely to be satisfied with the school, which can reduce the parent’s stress levels.

For more information about this research, please contact the MCDD at (443) 923-9555.