Advocacy among parents of children with autism

McGinty, Dacey
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Delaware
The purpose of this study was to examine the determinants of advocacy among parents of children with autism. Existing research related to parental involvement in the autism community has been largely qualitative and/or without a theoretical basis. This study utilized the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to predict and explain parents’ intentions to communicate with school staff and to attend autism advocacy event based on their attitudes, social norms, and perceived behavioral control. Respondents included 86 parents of children enrolled in the Delaware Autism Program (DAP), a highly specialized program dedicated exclusively to educating those on the autism spectrum. The survey was available between March 25, 2013 and June 1, 2013; 19 parents returned paper surveys while 67 completed an online version. A multiple regression analysis revealed that past behavior, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control predicted communication and attendance intentions. Attitude was an additional predictor of intention to attend an event. A paired t-test revealed that parents are more likely to communicate about their child than they are to attend an event to benefit the larger autism community. Pearson correlations revealed additional relationships, including a relationship between past advocacy experience and current attitudes toward advocacy. This study adds to autism research, advocacy research, and research expanding applications of the TPB.
Theory of planned behavior , Autism , Advocacy , Parents of children with Autism