World Autism Day 2012: What is it like to the mother of a child with autism?

2 April 2012 is the fifth World Autism Awareness Day. Every year, autism organisations around the world mark the day with fundraising and awareness-raising events.

The April issue of our monthly magazine The Psychologist carries an article by Claire Sowerby, whose daughter has autism.

She writes: 

“‘Being responsible for a daughter with autism is all-encompassing. It can be wonderful, because my child has such a unique perspective on life, is loyal, can be helpful and kind and in a lot of ways quite straightforward. The hard part is other people making judgements about me and my child, because they do not understand her differences and think I can change her, or she can change in ways she cannot. It makes life very stressful, and my world has shrunk, so that there are only a few people in it. The ones left are those who try to understand or are in the same position. My daughter has withdrawn socially outside of school. I now find it’s easier to “go with the flow” and withdraw with her, than hope to go and do things we used to do.”

Claire Sowerby’s article is the first in a new series for the magazine called ‘Viewpoints’. These will be first-hand accounts from people who have taken part in psychological practice. Readers will hear their story, that of the researchers and also get the perspective of an organisation hoping to make use of the findings. 

In an accompanying article, Dr Alison Lee from Bath Spa University says:

“Without people, there would be very little psychological research. Yet too often the individual is reduced to a data point, and we forget that the person has a voice, is changed by participation in psychological research and has the potential to impact upon the process in return. “

The British Psychological Society publishes three elearning modules on adult autism. These modules concentrate on raising awareness, delivering knowledge and understanding from introductory to specialist levels.