Parents’ experiences of an early autism diagnosis: insights into their needs

Aspasia Stacey Rabba, Cheryl Dissanayake, Josephine Barbaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Little research has directly examined parental needs following their child's early diagnosis of autism. Method: The experiences and support needs of 13 mothers and fathers who had a young child diagnosed (<36 months) were explored via a series of semi-structured interviews and a focus group. Results: Thematic analysis identified four key themes: emotional response to diagnosis, ability to manage the uncertainty post-diagnosis, resourcefulness, and experiences of sharing the diagnosis. Conclusions: Parents highlighted that receipt of an early diagnosis triggered an array of emotions, which influenced their coping. Charting parents’ lived experiences following an early diagnosis provides valuable insights that have important implications for the development of resources and supports for families at this time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101415
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Coping
  • Early diagnosis
  • Parental experience
  • Parents
  • Support

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