Awareness on ASD Among Young Parents
Objectives: The objective of this study is to explore the factors that contribute to ASD awareness among parents of young children in the general public. In particular, we will examine parent characteristics such as age, length of parenthood, race, education status, and personal involvement with the issue of ASD.
Methods: An online survey was distributed through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) to parents (N=497) who have a child 2-years or younger (who do not have a child with ASD). ASD awareness was measured using an 18-item instrument comprised of ASD symptoms and other challenging child behaviors. Participants indicated whether each item was a symptom of ASD. Involvement, defined as the degree of personal connection or attachment to the issue, was measured using three Likert-type items (α=.767). Multiple regression was used to address the study aims.
Results: Regression results indicate that the model significantly predicts ASD awareness among parents of young children, R2=.085, F(5, 496)=9.266, p<.001. Higher levels of education among parents (β=.092, p=.038) and ASD Involvement (β=.226, p<.001) were associated with increased ASD awareness, while being Asian (β=-.211, p<.001) was associated with lower ASD awareness. Length of parenthood, and membership in other racial groups were not significantly associated with ASD awareness.
Conclusions: Findings from this national cross-sectional study suggest that parent demographic characteristics and personal involvement with ASD contribute to their awareness of ASD signs and symptoms. These findings are an important first step in identifying differential awareness levels and information needs among young parents and may be used to guide public communication efforts. In particular, awareness appears to be lower among Asian parents and parents with lower levels of education. Implications for future research, practice, and policy will be discussed.