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Parents' and professionals' views on autistic motherhood using a participatory research design

Sutcliffe-Khan, Farzana, Larkin, Fionnuala ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3838-9165 and Hamilton, Lorna G. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0526-8252 (2024) Parents' and professionals' views on autistic motherhood using a participatory research design. Current Psychology.

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Research on autistic women’s experience of parenthood is lacking. In this paper, two studies are presented. Study 1 comprised a small-scale qualitative study with autistic mothers (n = 9) in which their experiences of motherhood were explored using thematic analysis. The findings showed that participants identified a range of strengths, including connection with their children, high knowledge about childhood, a reflective style of parenting, good coping strategies, identifying with their autism diagnosis, and not caring what others thought. They also identified difficulties, including sensory challenges, coping with uncertainty and change, having to socialise, managing exhaustion, and being taken seriously by professionals involved with their children. Guided by the findings of Study 1, and in collaboration with an advisory panel of autistic mothers, an online survey using mixed methods was completed by education and social professionals (n = 277) to investigate their understanding of, and attitudes towards, autism in women and mothers. Results showed high awareness and positive attitudes towards autism, but low levels of self-efficacy in working with autistic adults. Qualitative content analysis of open-ended questions shed light on challenges and rewards of working with autistic parents. The findings are discussed with reference to the double empathy problem (Milton, 2012) and implications for training of professionals.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-024-05999-2
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF636 Applied psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF697-697.5 Differential psychology. Individuality. Self
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/9862

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