Print page Print page
Switch language
The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Biographical disruption or cohesion? How parents deal with their child's autism diagnosis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  1. Demanding devices - living with diabetes devices as a pre-teen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  2. Managing type 1 diabetes in the context of work life: A matter of containment

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  3. Can inequality be tamed through boundary work? A qualitative study of health promotion aimed at reducing health inequalities

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

View graph of relations

Currently, we are witnessing a precipitous rise in autism diagnoses among children, and several bodies of sociological research are attempting to explain this development. However, the experiences within parental contexts have been inadequately examined; that is, how parents feel about and act upon the awareness of their child's autism diagnosis. Drawing upon a qualitative study among Danish parents of 20 children recently diagnosed with autism, this paper contributes with situated insights into parents' experiences. We identify a spectrum of feelings towards the autism diagnosis, including both relief and grief. In the absence of theoretical notions drawing attention to how a child's diagnosis influences parents' self-conceptions and understandings of their child, we develop the concept of 'parent-biographical disruption': the parents' rethinking of themselves and their child that might be caused by a chronic condition such as autism. Based on the variety of findings, we discuss what we call 'parent-biographical cohesion' as a counterpart to 'disruption'. By 'cohesion' we refer to the diagnostic awareness potentially creating clarification for parents about the past, present and future parenting of their child instead of disrupting their self-understandings as parents. In this way, through the notion of a parental-biographical spectrum of disruption and cohesion, we emphasize the diversity in how parents deal with a child's autism diagnosis and the variety of needs for rethinking parental biographies in the wake of a diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112673
JournalSocial science & medicine (1982)
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • Autism spectrum disorders, Biographical disruption, Children, Denmark, Parental experiences, Sociology of diagnosis

ID: 58440047