Date of Conferral





Public Health


Jacqueline Fraser


In this study, autism parent-led support groups and the contribution these groups had in creating parental advocacy were studied. The primary purpose of the study was to determine if autism parent-led support groups promoted advocacy skills of parents of children with autism. The secondary purpose of the study was to evaluate the level and extent of support provided by parent-led support groups. The qualitative data collection was done through individual interviews of parents of children with autism whose children were of any age. Through data analysis 6 major themes were identified: advocacy, emotional support, difficulty with funding, informational support, instrumental support, and appraisal support. Parents indicated that parent-led support groups assisted them in acquiring advocacy skills and provided good emotional support, informational support, and appraisal support. This research was important because parents of children with autism have greater problems with treatments than parents of children with other chronic developmental disorders, and many parents felt they needed to obtain advocacy skills in order to find the best interventions for their child. The social change implication of this study is that people can better understand the impact that parent-led support groups can have in facilitating advocacy among parents who participate in the groups. This study also brings to light the support these groups provide, and how this support impacts their lives.