Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 2122–2138 | Cite as

From ‘Parent’ to ‘Expert’: How Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Make Decisions About Which Intervention Approaches to Access

  • Amelia G. Edwards
  • Chris M. Brebner
  • Paul F. McCormack
  • Colin J. MacDougall
Original Paper


Parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are responsible for deciding which interventions to implement with their child. There is limited research examining parental decision-making with regards to intervention approaches. A constructivist grounded theory methodology was implemented in this study. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 14 participants from 12 family units. Data collection and analysis occurred concurrently, allowing a grounded theory to be constructed. Parental decision-making was influenced by many factors, arranged into seven core categories (values, experience, information, motivation, understanding, needs and logistics). Decision-making evolved over time, as parents transformed from ‘parent’ to ‘expert’. The results of this study provide an insight into parental decision-making, which has implications for the support provided to parents by health professionals.


Autism spectrum disorder Decision-making Intervention Parents Qualitative research 



The authors would like to acknowledge the participants who were involved in this study and the SLP who assisted with recruitment. This paper was prepared from the doctoral dissertation of the first author.

Author Contributions

AGE conceived the study and participated in all stages of the study (study design and data collection, analysis and interpretation) and drafted the manuscript. CMB, PFM and CJM all participated in the design of the study, data analysis and interpretation, and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Amelia Edwards, Chris Brebner, Paul McCormack and Colin MacDougall declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amelia G. Edwards
    • 1
  • Chris M. Brebner
    • 1
  • Paul F. McCormack
    • 1
  • Colin J. MacDougall
    • 2
  1. 1.Speech Pathology, College of Nursing and Health SciencesFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Public Health, College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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