Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 8, pp 3136–3145 | Cite as

Perceived Barriers and Existing Challenges in Participation of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: “He Did Not Understand and No One Else Seemed to Understand Him”

  • Parisa GhanouniEmail author
  • Tal Jarus
  • Jill G. Zwicker
  • Joseph Lucyshyn
  • Stephanie Chauhan
  • Chelsea Moir
Original Paper


Social participation is one of the most important predictors of the children’s physical and mental health. Although it is evidenced that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have restricted social participation, it is unclear which factors play a significant role. This research aimed to uncover perceived barriers of social participation by involving 26 stakeholders including parents of children with ASD, youth with ASD, and clinicians working with individuals with ASD in focus groups and interviews. Using thematic analysis yielded three themes including (a) difficulty understanding social situations; (b) maladaptive behaviours; and (c) conflicting priorities and restricted nature of training. This project was the first study to involve key stakeholders to highlight barriers of social participation among individuals with ASD.


ASD Social participation Perceived barriers Qualitative study 



We would like to express our sincere thanks to funding agencies, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and UBC Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies for their great support.

Author Contributions

PG, TJ, SC, and CM were involved in study design, ethics application, analysis of data, and writing or editing the manuscript. JGZ and JL were involved in the study design, editing, and reviewing the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University Behavioural Research Ethics Board.

Informed Consent

We obtained written informed consent from all participants prior to the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Parisa Ghanouni
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tal Jarus
    • 2
  • Jill G. Zwicker
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Joseph Lucyshyn
    • 7
  • Stephanie Chauhan
    • 2
  • Chelsea Moir
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Occupational TherapyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of Occupational Science and Occupational TherapyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics (Division of Developmental Pediatrics)University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Child & Family Research InstituteVancouverCanada
  5. 5.Sunny Hill Health Centre for ChildrenVancouverCanada
  6. 6.Research Associate, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability ResearchHamiltonCanada
  7. 7.Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education, Faculty of EducationUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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