Parents of Children with Autism: The Stigma and Emotion Work Associated with Navigating, Advocating, and Managing Autism
Stark, Paige DeAna
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This study analyzes the experiences of stigmatization and emotion work through the interview responses of eight parents of children with autism. Developing from Goffman’s theories of direct stigma and associative stigma this research integrates Hochschild’s emotion work as a way that parents respond to the stigmatization that they encounter. The results of this study indicate that some parents of children with autism perform suppressive emotion work in the way they respond to stigmatization and obstacles that occur when raising a child with special needs. In addition, stigma occurs in interactions with close friends and family members, creating issues of boundary-crossing. Parents of children with autism respond to stigma by educating those closest to them and normalizing the experiences of themselves and their child. In order to cope with the hardships of stigma, some parents also work to advocate, problem-solve, and build community beyond their immediate relationships.