Understanding the Utilization of Parent Support Groups of Parents with Children Diagnosed with Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities

Purpose: To explore the utilization of parent support groups for parents with children diagnosed with autism or other developmental disabilities. The research was a qualitative study exploring why individuals join parent support groups and their expectations of the group. Methods: The researchers utilized convenient sampling, as all participants were recruited from the Family Focus Resource Center offices located in Northridge and Santa Clarita. In-depth face-to-face interviews were conducted with 10 participants that attended a parent support group. The interview consisted of a total of 10 questions that pertained to the following areas: (1) motives and expectations and (2) demographics. Results: The results were consistent with previous research indicating that parents of children diagnosed with autism or other developmental disabilities join support groups for psychological support, tools to connect with their child, and educational support. There were six primary themes identified for all the parents in the study. Discussion: The findings in this study were congruent with the literature on the benefits of parents receiving social support and education, as well as positive changes within relationships in the family system.