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A feminist analysis of motherhood : subtitle experiences of mothers of a child with autism have with their support system Sutherland, Rayner

Abstract

Some feminist theorists have commented that feminism has succeeded only up to a point - and that point is motherhood. Motherhood, these theorists say, remains one of society's greatest untold stories. This study examines the subjective experiences of one small but important segment of mothers - mothers of a child with autism. The current literature on this topic is mainly focused on the autistic child and only recently has the impact on family members been explored. What relatively little literature exists is focused on "parents", not mothers, thus hiding the gendered nature of care, and is mainly quantitative, anecdotal, and focused on the impact of caring for children with generalized "special needs" - not on children with autism. To date, there has not been a comprehensive gender-sensitive qualitative study about the experiences of mothers caring for a child with autism. The goal of this study is to better understand the personal experiences of these mothers in terms of their interaction and relationship with their support system. Information was gathered through the use of semi-structured interviews with eight mothers. Analysis of their transcripts revealed three themes. Mothers experienced and felt: (1) ignored; (2) abandoned; and (3) like burdened "Supermoms."

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