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Facebook for parents of a child with autism spectrum disorder in Malaysia

Mustafa, HR 2017 , 'Facebook for parents of a child with autism spectrum disorder in Malaysia', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This study explored the use of Facebook for support group for parents of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Malaysia. As the number of children being diagnosed with ASD increases every year, worldwide, parents in Malaysia initiated a Facebook support group called Autisme Malaysia to cater to their social support needs. Earlier research investigated the use of online support groups in many Western countries and in a very limited way in Asian countries. With the rise of Facebook as a popular social network site, it is paramount to explore its usage for support group.
This netnography exploratory research aimed to: 1) explore experiences of parents of children with ASD in Malaysia participating in Autisme Malaysia (AM) Facebook group, and 2) investigate the impact of online engagement in this support group on these parents. These participants were parents/members of Autisme Malaysia Facebook group coming from all parts of Malaysia, and involved both mothers and fathers. This research utilised a qualitative approach adopting participant observation, archived Facebook data and semi-structured interviews for data triangulation methods. The participant observation was counted for frequency of activities carried out on Autisme Malaysia, while the other two methods were coded and analysed for pre-empted and emerging themes.
Findings highlighted three major themes: 1) online engagement, 2) social support, and 3) expression of feelings. These three themes were interconnected and illustrated the way in which online communication can provide a culturally and emotionally safe ‘space’ for sharing challenging personal information. The parents reported positive and negative experiences of their involvement in the group. A major finding of this project is that many parents developed creative and individualised ways to overcome negative experiences to the point that they felt that the negative experiences were a manageable part of the lived experience of participating in the group.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Mustafa, HR
Keywords: Facebook, support group, parents, child, autism spectrum disorder
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Copyright 2016 the author

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