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‘My greatest joy and my greatest heartache’: A narrative analysis exploring mother’s experiences of having a child on the Autism Spectrum

Stobbs, Stasha (2014) ‘My greatest joy and my greatest heartache’: A narrative analysis exploring mother’s experiences of having a child on the Autism Spectrum. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This research looks into how autism may affect, not only the child diagnosed with the disorder, but also the mother of that child. Previous research tends to focus on medical or genetic explanations of autism, or even the barriers faced by those with the disorder (Schall & McDonough, 2010), however this qualitative study moves away from the medical model to understand how autism impacts those around the child with the diagnosis. To explore the accounts and experiences of what it is like raising a child with autism, six mothers were interviewed. Semi-structured interviews followed a loosely directed interview guide, derived from previous literature. Using Emerson’s (2004) six stage process for narrative analysis, four core topics dominated the interviews: years in the wilderness; total isolation; stress and partial resolution. Sub-themes were derived from these. The overall analysis suggests that the dominant model of living with autism (frustrating, negative and linked to ‘suffering’) actually did conceptualise reality for the women interviewed.

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