A Qualitative Analysis of Psychological Strengths in Parents of Children with Autism Using the Five-Minute Speech Sample
Objectives: The aim of this study is to assess change in parents’ perceptions of their children with autism following participation in therapy, using the strengths-based concepts of acceptance, mindful awareness, and psychological flexibility.
Methods: Sixty parents of children with autism participated in cognitive behaviour therapy with their children. The AFMSS procedure, in which a parent is asked to speak about their child and the relationship they have with them for five uninterrupted minutes, was completed prior to and immediately post-intervention. Speech samples will be qualitatively analyzed using the interpretive phenomenological analysis approach (IPA; Smith, Jarman & Osborn, 1999), in which narrative data is coded for insights into participants’ experiences and perspectives, and codes are catalogued and explored for themes. This approach will be used to identify strengths-based themes, including those related to acceptance, mindful awareness and psychological flexibility, and to observe and describe differences between pre- and post-intervention samples.
Results: Speech samples have been collected and transcribed, and qualitative data analysis is ongoing. Based on early data collection, emerging codes that can be identified related to ACT processes include: flexibly reframing their child’s difficulties; awareness and insight into their child’s emotions; and celebrating small improvements. These codes will continue to be catalogued and mined for overarching patterns or themes as analysis continues.
Conclusions: Results will be discussed in the context of evaluating interventions using a more positive understanding of strengths and change in a population whose experiences are typically only considered from a deficits perspective.