Working Mothers’ Family-work Conflict and Care Decisions in Chinese Families of Children with Autism

Xuehui LI, Shixin HUANG, Luanjiao HU, Dong DONG

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Research on the caring experience of families with disabled members not only focuses on individuals with a disability but also on the caregivers. In this study, the Chinese mothers of autistic children are placed at the centre. As the primary bearers of family care for special children, they have had a hard time finding a balance between work and family. In most cases, the diagnosis of an autistic child is a stressor for the family-work dynamic. These mothers face the dilemma of continuing to work or resigning to be at home. Based on 22-month participant observations at a special education centre located in Shanghai, in-depth interviews with eight mothers with autistic children, and textual analysis of parent auto/biographies, this study reveals that the mothers’ decision of whether to resign is influenced by a variety of factors, ranging from economic burdens to individual fulfilment. The mothers who resign face greater parenting pressure and new adaptations; the mothers who continue to work develop coping strategies that include adjusting work objectives, reducing social interaction, and actively seeking assistance from the extended family. Finally, the family care model and gender division of labour, as well as improvements for social services are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisability, Sexuality, and Gender in Asia : Intersectionality, Human Rights, and the Law
EditorsWanhong ZHANG, Elisabeth BJØRNSTØL, Peng DING, Wei GAO, Hanxu LIU, Yijun LIU
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781000956504
ISBN (Print)9780367771928
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 selection and editorial matter, Wanhong Zhang, Elisabeth Perioli Bjørnstøl, Peng Ding, Wei Gao, Hanxu Liu, and Yijun Liu; individual chapters, the contributors.


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