Caribbean Journal of Psychology: Vol. 5, Issue 1, 2013

Article 3
Voices from the Spectrum: The Positive Impact of Autism on the Family in Three Societies

Dianne E. Holder
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill and
University of Florida, Centre for Autism and Related Disabilities



Abstract

This article reports on the findings of a qualitative and descriptive study on the positive impact of autism on families in three societies. Autism is a lifelong developmental condition occurring before the age of three. Qualitative data were collected through interviews and observations from a small sample of parents who were nominated by mental health care professionals. Three families each were identified in Barbados, Jamaica and Florida. A total of nine couples (18 parents) were interviewed. The study identified five core themes of positive impact on the family: development of parental advocacy focus, family enjoyment of talents of persons with autism, increased spiritual growth, family bonding and the enhancement of positive attitudes for parents. The findings suggest the need for more research with families on autism with regards to positive impact. Implications for policy and professional intervention with families with autism are discussed.