Community perspectives on the appropriateness and importance of support goals for young autistic children

Hannah Waddington, Hannah Minnell, Lee Patrick, Larah van Der Meer, Ruth Monk, Lisa Woods, Andrew J.O. Whitehouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is little research regarding autistic adult, parent and professional perspectives on support goals for young autistic children. A total of 87 autistic adults, 159 parents of autistic children, and 80 clinical professionals living in New Zealand and Australia completed a survey about the appropriateness and importance of common support goals for young autistic children. Goals related to the adult supporting the child, the reduction and replacement of harmful behaviours, and improving child quality of life were the highest priority across participant groups, while goals related to child autism characteristics, play and academic skills were the lowest priority. Compared to parents and/or professionals, autistic adults gave lower priority ratings for play skills, autism characteristics and participation goals and were more likely to rate these goal domains as inappropriate. More research is needed to understand the underlying reasons for these similarities and differences. Lay abstract: Researchers do not know much about what autistic adults, parents and professionals think about support goals for young autistic children. People’s views of support goals might also be influenced by their beliefs about early support more generally. This survey involved 87 autistic adults, 159 parents of autistic children and 80 clinical professionals living in New Zealand and Australia. We asked participants questions about themselves and what they thought about early support for young autistic children in general. We then asked participants to rate whether different support goals were appropriate for young autistic children and, if they were appropriate, to rate their level of priority. We found that autistic adults, parents and professionals all rated goals about the adult changing to better support the child, reducing and replacing harmful behaviours and improving the child’s quality of life as the highest priorities. They all rated goals about autism characteristics, play skills and academic skills as the lowest priorities. Compared to parents and/or professionals, autistic adults gave lower priority ratings for play skills, autism characteristics and participation goals. Autistic adults were also more likely to rate goals related to play skills and autism characteristics as inappropriate. While these three participant groups generally agreed on the order of priority of early support goals for young autistic children, autistic adults found goals related to autism characteristics, play and/or participation to be an even lower priority and less appropriate than parents and professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-326
Number of pages11
JournalAutism
Volume28
Issue number2
Early online date18 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

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