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ERIC Number: ED550690
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 146
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2679-5131-1
The Experiences and Perceptions of Social Support by Single Mothers of Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Varin-Mignano, Regina
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Adelphi University, School of Social Work
This study explored the single mothers perceptions of social support relative to raising a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. It used a qualitative framework with grounded theory methods. Two well-researched stressors exist that affect the lives of single mothers of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: parenting a child with special needs and being a single mother. Boss' (2002, 2006, 2008) theory of ambiguous loss, the ambiguity about a family member's presence or absence in the family system, served as some of the constructs for this study. A sample of 16 single mothers with a child or children diagnosed with autism in school-age special education programs ranging from 3 to 21 years of age took part in an in-depth, semi structured interview utilizing an interview guide developed based on the literature of mothers with children with autism and single motherhood. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed and data analysis was done by first using open coding. Through this the identification of variables that were descriptive of the mothers' experiences were identified. There were three primary findings to this study: 1) the concept of High Information Seeking emerged. This is defined as, Through this concept, the mothers clearly redefined their role of advocacy and autism, in essence moving towards a change in the social construct of autism as defined in the single-parent family; 2) the mothers' perceptions of positive support differed between familial and external resources (e.g. school based support teams, friends, online support groups); and 3) the mothers perceived lack of support from child protective services, the family and the child's father or paternal figure. The emergent grounded theory that was inductively derived from the data is that, through the use of High Information Seeking, the mothers coped with high boundary ambiguity and the ambiguous loss that they felt in raising their child through a method of ambiguous motivation, an internal drive to redefine and reconceptualize the experience that they had as a single mother and a mother of a child with autism. Through these findings a redefinition of the role to themselves of the single mother raising a child with autism emerged. The findings of this study of these parental perceptions proved essential to add to the knowledge and to improve social work practice for families who care for a child diagnosed with autism. Recommendations for social work practice, policy, and research and theory development are offered. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A