Date of Conferral
Cheryl T. Balkcom
In 2014, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the incidence of autism had reached a prevalence rate of 1 out of every 68 children. This increase means that more families have experienced the difficult Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnostic process. Although research on parental perspectives of the ASD diagnostic process is almost 2 decades old, to date, there have been no studies conducted in Canada comparing parental experiences between the private and government-funded assessment routes. Research in general has shown that parents are generally dissatisfied with the ASD diagnosis process. The theoretical foundation for this study is Hochbaum's health belief model that states that variations in a family's health-related decisions are based upon their perceptions of acceptance of the diagnosis, impact of the disorder, benefits and barriers of treatment, and their self-efficacy. The purpose of this correlational study was to examine critically the relationship between parental satisfaction prior to, during, and after the assessment with the type of diagnostic process (government funded or private) that parents chose, as measured by the Parent Perceptions Survey. The study sample consisted of 63 British Columbia parents with children under the age of 6 who were diagnosed with autism. The results of this study indicated that the 3 hypotheses were not supported. The only factor that mattered regarding parental satisfaction of an ASD assessment was the wait time. The implications for social change include practitioner and policy-level recommendations to provide parents a more positive experience when receiving a diagnosis of ASD and to decrease the lengthy ASD assessment waitlists to improve equal access for all families.