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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 121-127

Parenting a child with autism spectrum disorder: A qualitative study

1 Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2 Professor; Ex Senior Resident, Department of Pediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
3 Director-Principal of the Dr B R Ambedkar State Institute of Medical Sciences, Mohali, Punjab, India
4 Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

Correspondence Address:
Prahbhjot Malhi
Department of Pediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Sector 12, Chandigarh - 160 012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijph.ijph_1779_21

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Background: Research in India has seldom studied caregivers' perceptions, experiences, and needs for information and personal support after an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Objectives: The objectives of the study were to understand the perceived barriers for obtaining a diagnosis and the perspectives and experiences of parents of children with autism. Materials and Methods: Parents with a diagnosed ASD child (within a year of diagnosis) in the 3–8 years range were recruited from the Pediatric Psychology and Neurodevelopmental Clinic from a tertiary care teaching hospital in North India. An interview guide elicited information about experiences regarding obtaining an ASD diagnosis, perceived barriers and facilitators, reactions to diagnosis, postdiagnostic family and community experiences, and stress experienced by parents. Qualitative responses were analyzed using thematic analysis. Participants were recruited till there was a saturation of themes. The ethics clearance was provided by the institutional review board. Results: Twenty-eight caregivers of children with ASD were recruited for the study. Overall, nine themes were identified from the qualitative analysis of the interviews: two before diagnosis (delayed help-seeking and experiences with healthcare), one at the time of diagnosis disclosure (heightened emotional response to diagnosis), and six themes after the diagnosis (increased stress, behavioral challenges, deterioration in family relationships, negative attitudes of the family, seeking support, and moving forward with hope for the future). Conclusions: There are several barriers and gaps in the autism-related available services in the country, and there is a need to provide inclusive, supportive, culturally sensitive, and family-centered model of care for parents raising children with ASD.

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