Author 1: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6924-0155; Author 2: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8149-7236
Previous studies indicated that parents raising children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience higher rates of stress; however, no qualitative studies have addressed low-income parents’ lived experiences of raising children with ASD. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to understand the challenges that low-income parents of children with ASD face daily within the framework of family systems theory. Interview questions were used to focus on the impact of income and the core symptoms of ASD (social deficits, communication deficits, and repetitive behaviors) on marital and interpersonal relationships. Although the study was open to both mothers and fathers, only mothers participated in this study. Semi-structured interviews with 13 mothers were conducted, and transcripts were analyzed for themes. Results indicated some negative impacts on parents’ marital, social, and professional relationships. Themes included reports of stress and depression, decreased social interaction, low levels of personal and professional satisfaction, and decreased marital satisfaction. Results indicated that increased empathy and understanding of mothers’ challenges are needed to improve access to resources and services required for low-income parents of autistic children to enhance their family’s quality of life.