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The Stories of Older Parents of Adult Sons and Daughters with Autism: A Balancing Act

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Abstract

Background

Researchers acknowledge the importance of understanding how families of children with autism cope. Yet, little is known about the experiences of older parents of adults with autism.

Materials and Methods

In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 older parents of adults with autism. Narrative analysis was used to gain insights into their lived experiences.

Results

Participants' narratives reflected the notion that much of their experience was a delicate balancing act as they attempted to manage their offspring's symptoms of autism whilst achieving a degree of fulfilment in their own lives. Parents did not believe that formal services had adequately supported their ability to provide care whilst meeting other needs within the family context.

Conclusions

The findings have implications for services that attempt to support older parents' abilities to provide care, including the need for tailored intervention strategies that match each family's unique needs.

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