Experiences of families of children with autism spectrum disorder visiting a science museum
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Little is known about the experience of families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in community settings. The purpose of this research is to learn about the family experience when visiting a science museum, focusing on the motivations of the family, environmental features of the museum, strategies used by family members, and definitions of a successful visit to the museum. Data were collected through semistructured interviews and observations of four families that included a child with ASD. The families in this study appear to want the same community experiences for their children as families with typically developing children. Both the motivations for the visit and features of the environment appeared to influence the family’s approach and strategies they employed for a successful visit. Strategies included those completed before the visit (visitor planning strategies), as well as during the visit (strategies at the museum). The strategies enabled families to enjoy and experience success within the museum environment. The information learned in this study may help families with a child with ASD prepare for and use features of the museum to enjoy successful museum visits. Recommendations are provided for museums seeking to create inclusive opportunities for all families.