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Mothers of children with autism from the South Asian diaspora : the lived experiences of the home-school relationship Arya, Shalini


There are a myriad of cultural factors that influence the home-school partnership for families with children with disability (Boyd & Correa, 2005; Harry, 2002; Kalyanpur, Harry, & Skrtic, 2010). South Asian families contend with community stigmas, which may prevent them from openly discussing their child’s disability and actively engaging in their child’s school (Heer, Larkin, & Rose, 2015; Ravindran & Myers, 2012; Rizvi, 2017; Zechella & Raval, 2016). Teachers and schools need to understand the best way to communicate with the families, and encourage their involvement (Welterlin & LaRue, 2007; Zhang & Bennett, 2003). Trust is an essential component to the development of a positive partnership between schools and families (Adams & Christenson, 1998; 2000). The primary objective of this research was to gain a better understanding of the school experiences of South Asian parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (autism) as well as the role of trust in their school relationships. Using qualitative methods and an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach the researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with four South Asian parents of children who have been formally designated with autism. Participants were asked to share their experiences regarding their interactions with their child’s school and what role trust played in their experiences. Findings indicate that South Asian parents tend to have an innate trust with schools and teachers. As they interact with their child’s teacher and the school system, the frequency and severity of their positive and negative experiences impact their level of trust. Differences in experience relate to the differences in each participant’s contextually bound lifeworld.

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