Public Places and Social Participation : Obstacles Faced By Parents with ASD Children
Objectives: In this communication, we present the obstacles faced by parents when they frequent public places with their ASD child.
Methods: This was a descriptive survey. Parents were recruited through parents’ associations (Quebec Autism Federation) and invited to complete an online questionnaire that took approximately 30 minutes. The questionnaire was intended for parents of children (0-21 years) with an ASD. The online questionnaire was developed based on a literature survey and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). It consisted of both closed and open-ended questions that documented the public spaces into which the families went and the obstacles to their social participation. One open question was about the obstacles that parents encounter when frequenting public places with their ASD child.
Results: About 100 parents completed the online questionnaire. The results of the questionnaire suggest that these parents visit very few public spaces. Those they visit are primarily utilitarian in nature, such as grocery stores and malls. This study showed that going into public spaces is stressful for these parents because of several obstacles. These were grouped into three categories: 1) sensory stimuli, such as sounds, lights, and crowds 2) attitudes and perceptions of other people, whether suppliers or users of services; 3) concerns for their children’s safety. The analysis also revealed that the obstacles could influence each other.
Conclusions: A better understanding of these families’ situation could become a point of reference in developing services. This could make it easier to ensure that a proposed adaptation actually meets the needs of this population and that efforts to sensitize the people involved or others who use these spaces are targeting the right issues.