The Role of Grandparents in Supporting Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Family Systems Approach
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A family systems approach is required to identify the needs of families of children with autism. This paper explores how grandparents support children with autism and their parents using a family systems perspective. A thematic analysis of eighteen semi-structured interviews was conducted with participants from nine families, capturing experiences of both parents’ and grandparents’. Themes identified were family recalibrating; strengthening the family system; and current needs and future concerns of grandparents. The views of families indicated the overwhelming need to acknowledge the grandparental role in supporting families that strengthen the family system by supporting the needs of a child with autism. Findings revealed that grandfathers have a calming role in these families where children have significant behavioural difficulties.
KeywordsAutism Grandparents Parents Grandfathers Family systems approach Family systems theory
The authors would like to thank the families who generously took time to share their experiences. The authors acknowledge the support of Geraldine Bond and Mary Fitzgerald, both in the Brothers of Charity Cork, who assisted in the preparation of this research. This paper was completed following the submission of a Masters dissertation by the first author.
PP conceived this study. She designed, coordinated, completed and analysed interviews. She also drafted the manuscript. WK supervised the design of this research. He reviewed interview analysis for consistency and assisted in the draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Author A declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author B declares that he has no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee to which the authors are affiliated, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its amendments.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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