Parental Competence among Parents with Autistic Children: A Qualitative Study

Document Type : Original Article



Background: Parents of children with autism need to have unique competencies which are different from the competencies of parents with healthy children. Nurses and other health‑care providers should know these competencies to be able to provide these parents with quality care and education. Objectives: This study aimed to define the concept of parental competence from the perspectives of parents with autistic children. The main question of the study was, “What does parental competence mean?” Methods: This qualitative study was done in 2016 on 20 parents (12 mothers and eight fathers) of 20 autistic children. Parents were purposively recruited from the Autism Association of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran. Data collection was done through 16 semi‑structured interviews and two focus group discussions. Interviews and focus group discussions were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using conventional content analysis. Results: Data analysis led to the development of 13 subcategories, five main categories, and two main themes, namely, “restoration of family stability” and “excellence in child care.” The three main categories of the first theme were adaptation to the current situation, organization of family affairs, and improvement of satisfaction in the family. The second main theme also had two main categories, namely, self‑confidence in child care and stability on the difficult path of child care. Conclusion: Parental competence among parents with autistic children is defined as “the ability to restore family stability and achieve excellence in child care.” Appropriate strategies are needed to evaluate and improve parental competence among parents with autistic children.