Presentation Title: Information Seeking Behaviors of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Presenter(s): Sereen A Suleiman, School of Information

Abstract: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder that primarily impacts development in communication and behavior. As a result of these circumstances, children that are diagnosed with ASD are often times misunderstood by their peers. Therefore, as soon as the parents discover their childrens diagnoses, they immediately must resort to searching for information from both public and professional sources from different angles that will best assist their autistic children throughout life. Meanwhile, libraries and information organizations are becoming the centers of information access, education, and creativity throughout the world. While organizations such as the American Library Association are aiming to have libraries marketed as places welcoming diversity, equality, and inclusion, libraries are simultaneously viewed as unwelcoming towards children with ASD by their parents. Recently, strides have been made in researching autism within the library and information science (LIS) field. Additionally, researchers recommend that libraries host programs for children that will allow them to develop behavioral and social skills. Nevertheless, it is essential to constantly investigate the information seeking behaviors of the information community, parents of children with ASD, as more progress in autism awareness is yet to be made in libraries and information organizations alike.

The reason why I was and still am interested in investigating the information seeking behaviors of parents of children with ASD is for two reasons. First, both the children and their families could be misunderstood by their peers in society. As for the second reason, numerous factors are involved in terms of who, what, when, and where do the parents go to seek out information. Not only are social factors at work in this issue, but so are racial factors, cultural factors, economics, and at times, discrimination from both society and from the parents of these children themselves, who may unknowingly look down on children diagnosed at the lower end of the spectrum. If libraries wish to portray themselves as leaders of inclusion, I feel they need to do more work when it comes to including children with ASD and their families.

The research paper I wrote provided me with the opportunity to observe information seeking behaviors of parents of children with ASD in thorough detail. Not only did I retain more knowledge on Aspergers’ syndrome, but now I have an idea as to what types of information parents of autistic children are looking for, should I ever encounter them at my library. Additionally, working on this report instilled immense knowledge of information freedom, information literacy, and ultimately the meaning of what libraries are truly about: offering generous service to patrons of all backgrounds, whether that service is information, instruction, or even simple directions. Therefore, I would love to present this paper to the CPGE Online Student Conference, as I feel that I would be doing a tremendous service for the ASD community by educating my fellow MLIS students about ASD.

Link to Recorded Presentation:

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