Titre : An Analysis of the Support Needs of Fathers Living with a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Poster Presentation
Saturday, May 4, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
C. Bédard1,2, É. Milot1,2 and S. Tétreault3,4, (1)School of social work and criminology, Laval University, Québec, QC, Canada, (2)Réadaptation, Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en réadaptation et en intégration sociale (CIRRIS), Québec, QC, Canada, (3)Occupational therapy, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland, (4)Réadaption, Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en réadaptation et en intégration sociale (CIRRIS), Québec, QC, Canada
Background: The support needs of fathers living with a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are rarely documented in the scientific literature. In fact, most research present mothers perception. That explain why support services offered to families seem to be more adapt to women, without integrating the needs of both parents. This findings supports the relevance of documenting father’s experience and needs. It is also important to note that a high number of families living with a child with ASD experience a separation or a family restructuring. Step-parents are called on more and more to play a significant role in the life of the child and very little research has been done on their experience.

Objectives: The goal of this presentation is to present a portion of the results collected as part of a master’s level research project in social work. This research project focussed on the comparisons between the needs of parental figures of children with ASD between 5-12 years of age. The participants were encouraged to express their needs for support as a parent and as a partner in a couple. This presentation will focus mainly on the support needs of fathers and stepfathers.

Methods: A review of the publications on the parental need for support allowed for particularities related to the father’s experience to come out. Next, four fathers and one step father were invited to share their perspectives during focus group (n=3) or individual interview (n=2). Qualitative data were treated following Paillé et Mucchielli (2016) directives for thematic content analysis.

Results: All fathers indicate their limited knowledge about services offered to families. They claimed that it was the spouse who usually sought the services available. Fathers tend to be very preoccupied about schooling and socialisation of the child. They would like to have more strategies to support the development of the autonomy of their child. They wish to participate in more social activities and hobbies as well as to rest. Finally, the fathers mentioned a desire to attend practical training sessions on ASD. They prefer training that is more practical than theoretical.

Conclusions: A better understanding of the needs of fathers and stepfathers involved in families of a child with ASD is essential for optimising the practices of professionals who are also involved in daily life. Future research should look to developing how services can be adapted to support the reality of fathers and stepfathers.