Research has found 96% of autistic individuals experience sensory processing difficulties, and being a parent presents many sensory demands that may be especially challenging for autistic mothers. Despite the high prevalence, no research exists exploring the sensory experiences of autistic mothers, highlighting the gap in current knowledge. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 7 autistic mothers, data were analysed using thematic analysis identifying 5 major themes: antenatal experiences, sensory experiences in motherhood, the impact of sensory processing difficulties, strategies and needs, diagnosis. This research provides greater insight and understanding into the sensory experiences of autistic mothers which can influence earlier diagnosis and inform appropriate support and adaptations for autistic mothers in a variety of different sectors and highlights a possible emerging role for Occupational Therapists.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author would like to thank the mothers who participated in this research for sharing their valuable experiences and trust. The author wishes to acknowledge the Elizabeth Casson Trust fund for funding the researcher’s MSc final year module fees. The researcher owes a debt of gratitude to her dedicated MSc supervisors Dr. Orla Duffy and Dr. Katy Pedlow without whom this research would not have been possiable. The researcher also wishes to acknowledge Dr Simon Baron-Cohen and his research team at Cambridge University for their guidance and support in the initial phases of ethical approval and for advertising the study through the Cambridge Autism Research Database. Finally, the researcher wishes to thank her family for their love and unfailing support and understanding throughout this process.
© 2021, The Author(s).
- Autistic mothers
- Female autism
- Thematic analysis