The impact of a child's autism on the parenting process

Burbidge, Peter, Clin.PsyD.

July 2007

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© 2007 ClinPsyD Peter Burbidge. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This is an exploratory study investigating the impact of a child's autism on parenting. It uses a psychological model of parenting to compare the process for a child with autism and for a child without autism. Nine parents were interviewed and the transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Three superordinate themes were identified: 'What we do because of autism' focuses on the parenting process and the extra demands that are placed on parents as a result of the child's autism. 'What autism has done to us' describes the impact of the child's autism on the parents and the family. It describes how the families of children with autism become isolated and socially excluded. The third superordinate theme 'Different' emphasises how children with autism are 'different', they are different from their siblings and they are different from other children.

All the themes are discussed in relation to previous research and in terms of the Hoghughi (2004) model of parenting: 'Care', 'Control', and 'Development'. The parents' accounts of their experience of parenting a child with autism highlighted several possible ways in which services could be improved and generated several possible areas of future research.

Postgraduate Medical Institute, The University of Hull
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