Moving away from an individual and pathological framework and instead drawing on a social-relational model of disability, this article examines the experiences of mothers with autistic children in navigating between caregiving and working life in China. Conducting narrative analysis of 14 in-depth interviews with mothers of autistic children, we argue that their decisions to make adjustments to work are situated in social and relational dynamics of disabled and gendered cultural ideologies, inaccessibility to healthcare, education, and social services, as well as filial familial relationship. As a result, they have to adjust their careers and personal life, such as resigning from previous work and becoming full-time mothers. Although these women constantly experienced a strong sense of loss in terms of their personal and social identity, some developed new perspectives seeing disability, normality, and the meaning of ‘good mother’ in the process of negotiating their work life and motherhood role.
Bibliographical noteWe are deeply indebted to all women who generously shared their stories with us. We are also grateful to the parent organizations that supported this study. Special thanks are extended to the faculty and students of the University of Washington’s Seminar on Writing Disability Studies for providing care-full feedback on our writing, as they always do.
This work was supported by the National Social Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 21&ZD182) and Yifang Foundation (YFJE-20200410).
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- Work and family life
- social-relation model