Title

Ever Vigilant: Maternal Orchestration of Caregiving Occupations in Autism

Presenter Information

Elizabeth A. Larson

Start Time

30-10-2004 8:30 AM

End Time

30-10-2004 10:00 AM

Abstract

This paper will describe differences in orchestration of mothering and childcare occupations by mothers parenting children with autism. Children with autism appear to present greater parenting challenges than some other children with disabilities. This study examined maternal caregiving and stressors when parenting a son with autism. Nine mothers with diverse backgrounds whose sons had autism spectrum and additional diagnoses participated in this qualitative study. Data was gathered through intensive interviewing. A deductive interpretive interactionist analysis examined maternal interpretations and meanings of caregiving by identifying key experiential units, features and patterns of units, exemplars of variations and negative cases in these features/patterns, and relations of units. This analysis revealed that mothers characterized their caregiving as vigilance rather than burden, yet this vigilance was described as detrimental to maternal well-being in its fatiguing nature. Continual maternal oversight was necessary to promote the child's participation in daily life in expeditious, safe, and reliable ways while mitigating circumstances that provoked severe negative disruptive behaviors. Mothers vigilantly and strategically structured semi- independent activities, occupied children during leisure, oversaw social negotiations, monitored safety and environmental conditions, and performed forensic analysis of the root of the child's participation difficulties. The functions of vigilance were threefold to assure: 1) child's contentment and family harmony, 2) sufficiency of services that fostered child development and limited child difficulties, and 3) the child participated as fully as possible in family and community life. This parenting was especially intensive because mothers oversaw the children's activities at all times even during periods when mothers of typical children could take breaks from parenting. The implications of intensive vigilance on maternal well-being are discussed.

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Oct 30th, 8:30 AM Oct 30th, 10:00 AM

Ever Vigilant: Maternal Orchestration of Caregiving Occupations in Autism

This paper will describe differences in orchestration of mothering and childcare occupations by mothers parenting children with autism. Children with autism appear to present greater parenting challenges than some other children with disabilities. This study examined maternal caregiving and stressors when parenting a son with autism. Nine mothers with diverse backgrounds whose sons had autism spectrum and additional diagnoses participated in this qualitative study. Data was gathered through intensive interviewing. A deductive interpretive interactionist analysis examined maternal interpretations and meanings of caregiving by identifying key experiential units, features and patterns of units, exemplars of variations and negative cases in these features/patterns, and relations of units. This analysis revealed that mothers characterized their caregiving as vigilance rather than burden, yet this vigilance was described as detrimental to maternal well-being in its fatiguing nature. Continual maternal oversight was necessary to promote the child's participation in daily life in expeditious, safe, and reliable ways while mitigating circumstances that provoked severe negative disruptive behaviors. Mothers vigilantly and strategically structured semi- independent activities, occupied children during leisure, oversaw social negotiations, monitored safety and environmental conditions, and performed forensic analysis of the root of the child's participation difficulties. The functions of vigilance were threefold to assure: 1) child's contentment and family harmony, 2) sufficiency of services that fostered child development and limited child difficulties, and 3) the child participated as fully as possible in family and community life. This parenting was especially intensive because mothers oversaw the children's activities at all times even during periods when mothers of typical children could take breaks from parenting. The implications of intensive vigilance on maternal well-being are discussed.