Botoulas Pope, T. (2021). What doesn’t kill you, makes you wiser: A narrative study of the lived experiences of South African mothers who parent a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Middlesex University.

Autism is on the rise globally. The lived experiences of South African mothers from a stable socio-economic household whose children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder were explored using a narrative methodology. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five purposely sampled mothers. Past medical reports, and case histories were incorporated co-construct chronological personal life stories. These were analysed thematically and arranged into three overarching categories: educational and financial impacts, emotional and coping responses, and spirituality and transformation. Results indicated that mothers shared common experiences and emotional discomfort. Limited educational choices impacted mothers’ stress levels and quality of life negatively despite financial resources affording access to private therapies and schools. Mothers utilised varying bio-psycho-social-spiritual coping strategies to embarked in an ongoing process of adaptation. Over time they revised their world view and their belief systems, including transpersonal elements of gratitude, acceptance, and spirituality. Increased educational and therapeutic resources for children regardless of socio-economic standing is indicated. Parent-centered and integrated support systems that focus on the psychology of transformation are further indicated.

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