PARENTAL EXPERIENCES OF RAISING A CHILD WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER IN GHANA A case study research analysis
Aim: This study explores parental experiences of raising a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Ghana. It investigates parental stress, stigma, access to education for children with ASD and coping strategies employed by parents to manage the situation. This was necessitated by the prevalence rate of ASD globally and the limited number of research available on this phenomenon in Ghana. Theory: The religious or magical model of disability proposed by Avoke (2002) and the social model of disability proposed by Oliver (1996) were adapted to explore this phenomenon in the Ghanaian society. Method: Informed by the interpretive paradigm of research, qualitative case study research was used to closely investigate, explore and describe the identified research problem. In all five parents were interviewed as major sources of data for the research. In addition, three heads of institutions were also interviewed to complement the data gathered from parents about access to education. Further, field notes were taken, a research diary was kept and the legal policy regarding education for children and education for children with disabilities in Ghana were outlined to give a fair idea of what the legal framework proposed. The data was analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: It emerged that parents of children with ASD in Ghana are stressed, stigmatized, and find it difficult when accessing basic education for their children. Also, spirituality and the belief in the supernatural was identified as dominant cultural opinion regarding the cause of this condition. Hence, most parents cope by seeking spiritual help, seeking family and friend support, educating themselves about the condition, changing their lifestyles, and disregarding negative societal attitudes.