Spiritual Journey in Mothers' Lived Experiences of Caring for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

  •  Abbas Heidary    
  •  Laleh Hosseini Shahidi    
  •  Ali Mohammadpuor    


INTRODUCTION: Helping mothers who have children with autism spectrum disorders requires understanding of their lived experiences. This study aims to uncover the spiritual journey as a main theme in Iranian mothers’ experiences.

METHOD: This hermeneutic phenomenological study is a part of a larger study undertaken for partial fulfillment of the requirement for PhD dissertation in nursing. The main study was performed on 18 cases of Iranian mothers, with experience of caring for a child with an autism spectrum during 2011-2012. They were selected based on purposeful sampling method. Semi -structured interviews for data collection were used. Data analyses were done with the interpretative method.

RESULTS: Spiritual journey is one of the main themes of the phenomenon under study in the original project. It consists of three sub -themes each of which supported by a number of common meaning. The sub-themes and their common meanings in parenthesis are (1) Descent: wondering between what is and what will be (having sorrowful tale, unanswered question, escaping from reality, losing hope) (2) Connecting to deity: reflection on the failure in her struggle (gratefulness, surrendering to god, having the divine test) (3) Ascent: helping her child is becoming all of the mother’s life (to rescue, being hopeful, listening to her inner voice)

CONCLUSION: This research concluded that caring for the autistic children led mothers’ lives to raise spirituality and enabled them to help their children and themselves, to grow and be refined in this process.

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