Caregiver-centred empowerment for families raising autistic children: A qualitative case study from Argentina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Autistic children and their caregivers in Argentina often lack access to information, resources and evidence-based interventions. Caregiver empowerment may help support families to uphold their child’s rights and access suitable education and support. This study aimed to examine the perceptions on empowerment of caregivers of autistic children in Argentina. This was a phenomenological, qualitative study. We conducted 32 semi-structured individual interviews remotely. Participants included caregivers, health service providers, non-governmental organisation representatives, special education teachers and policy representatives. Data were analysed thematically. We developed three main themes: Caregiver agency: from intuitive coping strategies to entrepreneurship; ‘I had to cut down on therapy’: Economic instability and inequality affecting service access; and Equipping caregivers to be empowered. Both caregivers and professionals talked about the contribution of socio-economic inequalities to caregivers’ sense of disempowerment. Caregivers identified coping strategies and discussed their experiences with advocacy. They expressed that in-person and online support groups have an empowering effect. Based on participant views, strategies supporting caregiver empowerment may involve: interventions are co-designed by professionals and caregivers; focusing on caregiver mental health; and addressing the profound impact of poverty on the quality of life of families. Lay abstract: Caregivers of children with developmental disabilities, including autism, often struggle to access services, information and resources in Argentina. Little is known about how caregivers can be empowered to support their children as they wish to in the Argentinian setting. We spoke with 32 people online to understand existing and potential practices of supporting caregivers. The people we spoke with included caregivers, health service providers, non-governmental organisations’ representatives providing services or technical support, special education teachers and policy representatives. Participants said that poverty, and inequalities in accessing support, impact how caregivers can support their children. They mentioned examples that help caregivers feel empowered, such as peer support groups and caregiver training. Many caregivers spoke about how they became advocates for their children and how they developed initiatives such as advocacy campaigns and well-being support groups. Caregivers in Argentina may be empowered in various ways, and the following strategies can improve empowerment: strengthening collaboration between professionals and caregivers; focusing on caregiver mental health; and addressing the profound impact of poverty on the quality of life of families.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAutism
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Feb 2024

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Caregiver-centred empowerment for families raising autistic children: A qualitative case study from Argentina'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this