Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Genetic Counseling

First Advisor

Sarah Ravan


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the need and desire of parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to receive sensory processing disorder (SPD) education. We hoped to identify misconceptions of parents about sensory processing and examined the utility of providing information on SPDs to these parents within the genetic counseling session. Methods: Invitations to participate were sent to support groups in the Southeast United States. A survey tool was used to obtain demographic information. A short presentation was given to clarify the definition of sensory processing, give examples of signs and symptoms of SPDs, and provide other information regarding sensory processing. This was followed by a guided discussion with the parents present at the focus group. Participants were asked questions regarding misconceptions, comfort discussing their child’s condition, and feelings of parental competency. Results: A total of three support groups agreed to participate. Focus groups ranged in size from three participants to four participants and lasted fifty minutes to an hour and fifteen minutes. While many parents had at least vague familiarity with SPDs, having received information from a variety of sources, some expressed misconceptions that needed to be clarified. The information provided allowed for a discussion of the child’s behavior in positive terms. A majority of parents expressed a desire for more information regarding sensory processing disorders. Conclusions: Based on the information gathered, it is hypothesized that including a discussion about sensory processing may provide an opportunity for parents to discuss their child in a positive manner. In addition, it may allow for identifying misconceptions and allow for better understanding of their child’s behaviors. The findings of this study may assist genetic counselors in addressing parent need for information, therapy, and support as they care for their child with autism.


© 2016, Katelynn M. Anderson