Acknowledging mother's lived experience of raising a child with Autism : a phenomenological inquiry
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Autism is one of those human ambiguities that forces vigilant open-mindednesssometimes this open-mindedness comes without choice, for example when you become the mother of a child with autism. Recent reports indicate that Pervasive Developmental Disorders affect 1 in 150 children (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007). This also means that there are many families caring for children with autism. The purpose of this research was to explore the day to day lived experiences of mothers caring for a child with autism. With a drastic increase in children diagnosed with autism, and very little research on mothers themselves, assisting in articulating lived experiences from mothers themselves seemed like an acceptable first step. Mothers were asked to journal for a period of one month, once a week, as well as participate in a focus group. Findings from both of these techniques were analyzed using underpinnings from Amelio Giorgi and Max van Manen. General findings indicate that mothers present poignant narratives about living with their child. It becomes clear that mothers are stressed, and live a complicated and often contradictory existence. Many days are fraught with struggle, anticipation, watchful eyes, judgment and guilt. There is a constant battle waging; the one within themselves, and the one with an uninformed and uncooperative public. Given that this research contributes to an extremely small body of qualitative research on mothers, future research should continue to gain insight from mothers, without classifying or categorizing their words. Their words speak volumes. Professionals may know autism, but mothers know their children.