Toronto Metropolitan University

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Somali-Canadian mothers' experiences in parenting a child with autism spectrum disorder

journal contribution
posted on 2023-01-17, 15:27 authored by Fatima Kediye, Angela Valeo, Rachel BermanRachel Berman

This paper reports on the experiences of ten Somali-Canadian mothers parenting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (asd). Using focus groups and open-ended questions, the study asked the mothers to narrate their experiences and beliefs regarding the stresses they face in parenting a child with asd. Many of the stresses reported by the mothers included anxiety over lack of developmental gains in their children with asd and the resulting issues over safety and future independence. Tensions with key professionals such as teachers and doctors was also noted as causing considerable stress and was perceived to result from limited language skills on the mothers’ part, and lack of knowledge of Somali culture on the part of the professionals. The absence of an extended family in Canada was also noted as causing undue hardship for these mothers and was complicated by Canadian immigration policies that were perceived as rigid. The mothers’ negative experiences with the general public often led them to isolate themselves and their child. While parenting a child with asd has considerable challenges, being an immigrant mother and a member of a visible minority appears to intensify those challenges. 




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