Parents of Children with Autism who Blog: a Thematic Analysis
This study used thematic analysis to investigate the blogs of parents of children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Condition, with a particular focus on themes that emerge when parents write about themselves, their child and their family relationships. The first stage of the study involved a broad analysis of the first six months of entries presented within eight blogs. Themes which emerged during this stage included ‘Coping’, ‘Searching for an explanation - Meaning making’ and ‘Sense of belonging vs not belonging’. The second stage of the study involved a deeper analysis of two of the eight blogs, used as case studies, which were selected due to differing on aspects of the themes found during the first stage of analysis. Themes which emerged from the second stage were a superordinate theme of ‘Searching for an explanation - Meaning making’, with subordinate themes of ‘Relationship with ASC’ and ‘Relationship with society’. There were only brief mentions of family relationships within the blogs, except the relationship with the child and it seemed that parents often made sense of their experiences through their relationship with ASC and their relationship with society. Many of the parents who blogged reported changes in their relationship with society due to feeling that others do not understand and a sense of not belonging. It seemed that blogging provided a sense of belonging and a way of being understood for these parents, as well as a source of information to help parents explore ASC and their relationship with ASC. The themes that emerged may provide important information for clinicians and the implications of the research findings are discussed. The limitations of the study are noted and there are suggestions for future research.