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Growing Together: Stories of resilience in families of children with autism

Clow, Abbey (2016) Growing Together: Stories of resilience in families of children with autism. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Caring for a child with autism has been shown to have adverse effects on the entire family (Greeff & Walt, 2010). However, whilst many families with children with autism have substantial difficulty in dealing with the challenges they face, some families cope exceptionally well. The theory of family resilience supports the latter notion by demonstrating that many families have the ability to withstand and bounce back from life’s disruptive challenges (Walsh, 2012). The present study aimed to apply conceptual definitions of family resilience in a practical, narrative form by accurately illustrating the true experiences of families of children with autism. Qualitative methods, guided by the narrative tradition, were used to elicit stories of family resilience. Narrative analysis of the interview transcripts covered structural, thematic and wider socio-cultural components. The findings showed how a number of families of children with autism overcame different difficult challenges. These findings could be beneficial for strength-based interventions that focus on utilising families’ strengths and build on the positives (Blundo, 2001). Narrating true stories of overcoming life’s challenges could not only build the confidence that empowers families of children with autism, but disrupt the negative perceptions and expectations that society has on them.

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