“Perceptions of Stigma: The Parents of Autistic Children”

Scholarly Source #1

Click here to view the journal article

Gray, D. E. (1993), Perceptions of stigma: the parents of autistic children. Sociology of Health & Illness, 15: 102–120. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.ep11343802


This source is about the effect of autism on a family member’s perception of themselves. The issue being addressed is that past researches have conducted research on the effect of a mental illness of an individual on the family members, but assumed that all family members of a mentally ill person perceived themselves to be stigmatized and accept that they are stigmatized. However, Gray argues that it may be the case that not all family members feel they are perceived as stigmatized, that they are not affected by the courtesy stigma. The researcher finds that in fact, not all family members, including parents, feel they are stigmatized by the mental illness of their family member/child.


The researcher conducted a study of 32 parents of autistic individuals, males and females, in an interview-style setting. These parents were from Australia and coastlands, and their income, education, severity of child’s illness, and occupations ranged representing the Australian population. The interview lasted for approximately an hour up until 5 hours approximately, and they were asked a range of questions that were not leading concerning stigmas, perceptions, experiences, etc. The researcher did manage to connect his findings with findings of past researchers on mental illness. No argument was made to the individuals being surveyed.


Initially reading this source, I was relieved to know someone has done research on the effect of a mental illness social stigma, not only on the individual, but the family members as well. This source was able to set the stepping stones for my research, and although this was a small research, it was able to guide me in the direction I want to research more about. He was able to acknowledge that he did not have all the accurate information he could possibly acquire, but under research circumstances he provided the best details he could. In addition, this made me think that I would like to look more into why women are more prone to feel responsibility for their child being autistic and why they feel more stigmatized.

I didn’t have earlier sources, per say, except the Wikipedia trail activity sources. This source was more complex, challenging, and accurate than the past sources. It provided qualitative research and insight beyond facts I could pull from a short online article written by someone with bias.


“On the one hand, many parents felt that the experience matured their other children and gave them an understanding of disabled people that they normally would not have had. On the other hand, most of the same parents felt that their other children paid a high price for their sibling’s illness”

This quote makes me think about my research question in regards to how mothers/parents may not only feel guilt because of the outside world stigma, but also because of family members within, such as siblings of the autistic individual.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.