Happiness in Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Qualitative Study

Wanda Man Wai Chau 1 * , Penny Jayne Furness 2

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp. 168-190

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Literature reports the challenges of parenting a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and its impacts on emotional and psychosocial wellbeing, both generally and specifically in the Hong Kong context. Positive parenting experiences are less well defined; however, research and theory in the positive psychology field suggests that people living with adversity can find and create meaning, positivity and happiness. This study aimed to investigate Hong Kong parents’ experiences and perceptions of happiness and well-being in raising their children with ASD. Eight parents (2 fathers; 6 mothers) were interviewed in-depth about their parenting-related perceptions and experiences of happiness and well-being. A thematic analysis generated four themes: A Growth Mindset, Connectedness, Self-Care, and A Better Me, each comprising several related sub-themes. Findings indicated that happiness was crucial for these parents, despite the challenges of raising a child with ASD in Hong Kong, and that they actively sought out activities to enhance their happiness, satisfaction and meaning. Results are in keeping with positive psychology theory, add specific detail relating to this group and could be extended with further research. Findings could also inform policy makers and support services in the development of welfare plans, educational resources and social support for this group of vulnerable families in future.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder, happiness, parenting, qualitative, thematic analysis