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The Information Seeking Behaviours of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • An increase in the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) motivated this investigation into the information seeking behaviours of parents of children with ASD in Edmonton, Alberta. A qualitative approach based on a non-random, purposive sampling method was used. Semi-structured interviews of five female participants using open-ended questions were carried out for this pilot study. This research not only surveyed the information needs and information sources used by parents, but also examined the criteria that parents used to evaluate them as well as barriers that parents faced in accessing relevant information. Though parents mostly needed information for medical/health purposes and for managing the symptoms and behaviours of their children, a number of peripheral information needs which included respite care, education, transportation and social services providing family support were also documented. Parents relied mostly on health professionals and the Internet for their information. Other information sources included not for profit organizations, government agencies, libraries, conferences and workshops, print materials and newly diagnosed parents’ meetings. However, findings point to increased reliance on a parent support system on social networking sites, such as Facebook, that allowed parents to connect and share useful information about caring for a child with ASD. Barriers that parents faced in accessing useful information included commodification of information, dispersal of information and information overload. While not-for-profit agencies were lauded for excellence in providing information, parents had mixed-feelings about government agencies. The study also indicated that parents need instruction in evaluating their sources of information on the Internet. Implications for information professionals are presented.

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  • Type of Item
    Conference/Workshop Presentation
  • DOI
  • License
    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International