UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"A balancing act" : an interpretive descriptive study of parents' experiences raising a child with Asperger's syndrome York, Kaley


This thesis is an interpretive description of parents’ experiences raising a child, 11 to 19 years, with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Eight families consisting of 13 parents (8 mothers and 5 fathers) participated. Data collection comprised of semi-structured interviews with parents, demographic information for each parent, and field notes. The analytic method of constant comparison (Thorne, 2008), informed by grounded theory methodology (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), allowed for the identification of commonalities across parents’ experiences. The core concept of a ‘balancing act’ was identified, which was comprised of three key themes: “losing our footing,” “regaining our balance” and “helping others find their balance.” The findings shed light on how parenting a child with AS is a complex and evolving process in which parents struggle to find the right balance for themselves, their child with AS, and their family as a whole. Over time, parents gain knowledge and skills related to the AS, how to read their child and the AS, and effective strategies to manage the AS in the context of family life. This balancing act is often witnessed and judged by an audience of others (i.e., school and health professionals, extended family, and strangers), which can compromise parents’ ability to find and maintain balance. Findings from this study have application potential to practice, education, and research domains, helping to raise awareness of what it is like to parent a child with AS and inform and strengthen the care provided to families experiencing AS.

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