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Title: Parents' explanatory beliefs concerning their child's Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) : a grounded theory approach
Author: Dunn, Tanya Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 2221
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2011
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Objectives: Currently there is no known single cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and diagnosis is based on observable behavioural characteristics. Research regarding theories about the aetiology of ASD have been dominated by an academic perspective. However, parents with children who have ASD will also have their own explanatory beliefs of their child's difficulties. Research examining parents' beliefs surrounding their child's ASD have shown both similarities and discrepancies between parental and academic understandings. These discrepancies may impact on parental help seeking behaviours and engagement with therapeutic services. The aim of this study is to explore the different explanatory beliefs parents have when talking about their child who has been diagnosed with ASD. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten parents of children with ASD. Data collection and analysis was guided by the Grounded Theory method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) which led to the production of a process model grounded in the parents experiences. Results: The core category of the process model was termed 'Accommodating Autism', which reflected the parents' beliefs regarding ASD and had implications for how they lived and coped with accommodating ASD within their families. Accommodation involves a process of adaptation, specifically how the parents have made adjustments to raising a child with ASD. The core category was formed of four main categories 'Making Sense of ASD', 'Process of Acceptance', 'Negotiating Difference'and 'Searching for an Explanation'. Discussion: The study's findings from the analysis are located within the current literature. The clinical implications of the findings include recommendations that services need to become more explicit with families in acknowledging their perspectives regarding the aetiology of ASD and there being other perspectives available. Grief was also a key issue and emotional support for parents needs to be addressed more openly.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available