In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, already limited services and resources for families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in China became even more scarce. This qualitative case study highlights one online parent education and training (PET) program developed during the pandemic to offer home-intervention strategies to parents of children with ASD in mainland China. This exploratory study sought to examine the emic perspectives of the trainers and parents who participated in the 12-week intensive training program while considering the cultural context in China and the transnational, remote nature of the program.
The primary data focused on the experiences of the trainers and parents within PET program’s structure and strategies, which were adapted from the Training of Trainers model, and were collected from semi-structured, in-depth individual and focus group interviews conducted virtually with trainers (n = 4). Supplemental data sources included training session materials and feedback forms collected from parents (n = 294) at the midpoint and end of the program. After the collected data were sorted and condensed, a thematic analysis was performed using the data analysis spiral to further organize and code the data, and the codes were finally collapsed into themes.
Three overarching themes were identified: (1) training as modeling with resources, (2) dilemmas in cultural contexts and expectations, and (3) cultivating parent support networks.
The online PET program became a hub of support networks and learning spaces for parents of children with ASD in different regions in China during the pandemic. Through the interactive virtual training sessions, parents were supported by continuous feedback on their home intervention and coached to cultivate support networks among themselves despite tensions arising from cultural differences and to implement effective intervention strategies that were individualized and authenticated to their specific familial needs.