Attitudes toward Pursuing Genetic Testing among Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Taiwan: A Qualitative Investigation

Zihan Zhang, Texas A&M University, College Station
Justin Kramer, Texas A&M University, College Station
Haocen Wang, Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.
Wei-Ju Chen, The University of Texas Permian Basin, Odessa
Tse-Yang Huang, Department of Special Education, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu 30013, Taiwan.
Yann-Jang Chen, National Yang Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Tung-Sung Tseng, LSU Health Science Center - New Orleans
Lei-Shih Chen, Texas A&M University, College Station


BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cases is increasing in Taiwan. Genetic testing for children with ASD offers several potential benefits and is available with out-of-pocket expenses. Parents play a pivotal role in having their children with ASD tested; therefore, understanding their perceptions of, and perceived barriers to genetic testing is vital. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 39 parents of children with ASD in Taiwan. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. NVivo 12 software (QSR International, Doncaster, Australia) was used to facilitate an inductive coding methodology. RESULTS: The majority of participants (74.4%) supported ASD genetic testing for their children with ASD, citing reasons such as clarifying ASD etiology, well-informed family planning, contributing to ASD research, and early ASD detection and intervention. Others indicated that they were either against such testing (17.9%), or unsure (7.7%) about whether to take their children with ASD for genetic testing. Those who were opposed reported that their main concerns related to perceptions of no value of genetic testing, potential for family conflict, and financial difficulties. CONCLUSIONS: Most of the parents of children with ASD that we interviewed expressed favorable views of ASD genetic testing. There exists a need to increase parental access to education and counseling, and to include testing coverage in Taiwanese national health insurance.