The impact of individualised funding on the wellbeing of mothers raising an autistic child in Aotearoa New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Work at Massey University, Manawatū, Aotearoa New Zealand

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Massey University
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How best to support the wellbeing of mothers raising autistic children is an emerging issue of importance due to the growth in autism diagnosis. Meanwhile, the Aotearoa New Zealand government is reviewing systems to deliver better health and disability support services for all Aotearoa New Zealanders to achieve more equitable and efficient outcomes through individualised funding by providing personalised and self-directed support for disabled people. While such supports have been globally recognised as a viable and beneficial way to enhance quality of life among disabled people and their family, currently there is limited research examining how this funding has impacted on a mother’s perception of the challenges of caring for their autistic child, as well as improving their wellbeing. In this qualitative study, seven mothers raising an autistic child were interviewed regarding their experiences with individualised funding and its impact on their disabled child and their own wellbeing. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Key findings indicated that caring for an autistic child has an ongoing negative impact on mothers’ overall wellbeing and the individualised funding did not seem to ease the stresses of caring. For these mothers, wellbeing requires the funding support to see the family as a unit of care instead of individualisation of a child’s needs, which has further perpetuated exclusion and social isolation for mothers and families. Results of this research support the need for social and healthcare professionals in the disability sector to call for the government to consider the wellbeing of parents raising an autistic child in a more flexible and holistic way to meet the unique circumstances of a family.