Wellbeing of mothers of children with “A-U-T-I-S-M” in Malaysia: An interpretative phenomenological analysis study

Kartini Ilias, Jeanette Hui Jean Liaw, Kim Cornish, Miriam Sang-Ah Park, Karen Jennifer Golden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background This qualitative study aimed to explore how mothers gave meaning to their experiences of raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Malaysia. Methods Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, semistructured interviews were conducted with 8 Malaysian mothers from different ethnic backgrounds (4 Chinese, 3 Malays, and 1 Indian). Results Three themes for the mothers’ adaptation and wellbeing development were identified, including Problem realisation within the context: Learning to spell A-U-T-I-S-M in Malaysia, WE are living with autism, and Resilient overcoming: Climbing Mount Kinabalu. The mothers viewed their child’s ASD symptoms and behaviour problems (e.g., hyperactivity and sleep difficulties) as taking a toll on wellbeing. However, coping strategies, including acceptance, proactive mindset, character growth, spirituality, and parent support networks, fostered wellbeing. Conclusion Both intrapersonal and interpersonal protective processes were important. The findings suggested that Seligman’s (2011) PERMA framework may be applicable to understanding parental wellbeing. Clinical, policy, and research suggestions were discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-89
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • ASD
  • Asian
  • culture
  • Malaysia
  • parent
  • qualitative
  • resilience
  • wellbeing

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