Living with "new normal:" Fathers' blogged experiences of parenting a child with autism

by Lindsay Stehouwer

Institution: University of Guelph
Year: 2014
Keywords: autism spectrum disorders ; ASD ; blog ; fathering ; disabilities ; qualitative ; parenting
Record ID: 2042951
Full text PDF: https://atrium.lib.uoguelph.ca/xmlui/handle/10214/8276


This thesis examines fathers’ experiences of parenting a child with autism, as expressed in online blogs. A number of studies have purported to investigate parental experiences of this nature; however, parental samples are usually maternal samples in disguise. Despite the modern shift from paternal breadwinning to co-parenting, the unique experiences of fathers continue to be overlooked in the disability parenting literature. For the present study, 180 blog posts—relating to fathers’ experiences parenting a child on the autism spectrum—from 18 father-authored blogs were analyzed. A model of 'Living with New Normal' was developed to characterize the range of experiences and emotions these fathers expressed in their online entries. Central to this model were experiences of stress (often due to societal and systemic struggles) and crisis (feeling hopeless and defeated), with a shifting focus towards resilience and coping (developing a “new normal” and celebrating autism’s unique contribution to the family).