Purpose: The goal of this first-of-its-kind qualitative study was to examine the awareness, attitudes, and experiences among parents of autistic children regarding autism genetic testing.
Methods: We conducted in-depth, individual, and semistructured interviews with 42 parents of autistic children with diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds. All interviews were audio-taped, transcribed, and coded into major themes and subthemes.
Results: Approximately one-quarter of participants had two or more autistic children, and about half of them were ethnic/racial minorities. The majority of participants postulated favorable attitudes toward autism genetic testing for three main reasons: early intervention and treatment, identifying the etiology of autism, and informed family planning. Nevertheless, among parents who had taken their children for genetic testing, some expressed frustration and questioned the competency of their providers in interpreting test results. Asian parents and those with a low socioeconomic status expressed lower awareness and tended to have more limited access to autism genetic testing.
Conclusion: As health-care providers play a vital role in providing genetic services and education, these professionals should be educated and be sensitive to the needs of parents with autistic children. Further quantitative research is required to examine the effects of socio-demographic factors on parents' awareness, attitudes, and experiences regarding autism genetic testing.