The impact of individualised funding on the wellbeing of mothers raising an autistic child in Aotearoa New Zealand


  • Racheal Priestley Oranga Tamariki
  • Polly Yeung School of Social Work Massey University
  • Lareen Cooper School of Social Work Massey University



Autism, individualised funding, wellbeing, mothers, disability


INTRODUCTION: How best to support the wellbeing of mothers raising autistic children is an emerging issue of importance due to the growth in autism diagnoses. While the move to individualised funding has been seen to promote autonomy for disabled people and their family to make decisions about services to meet their needs, it has also received criticisms, leading to inequitable processes and outcomes. The purpose of this research was to explore how individualised funding has impacted on mothers raising autistic children and their wellbeing.

METHODS: A qualitative approach, combining semi-structured interviews and the theoretical underpinning of social constructionism, was used to interview seven mothers in 2020 to discuss their experiences of raising an autistic children and how individualised funding has impacted on them. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data collected.

FINDINGS: 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.

CONCLUSION: Mothers raising an autistic child in Aotearoa New Zealand face complex funding systems, which are difficult to navigate. Individualisation of disability funding frameworks continues to create barriers and negatively impact the wellbeing of mothers. Wellbeing requires the funding support to see the family as a unit of care instead of the individualisation of a child’s needs. Results of this study urge practitioners and policymakers to support parents raising an autistic child in a more flexible and holistic way to meet the unique circumstances of a family. 


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How to Cite

Priestley, R., Yeung, P., & Cooper, L. (2022). The impact of individualised funding on the wellbeing of mothers raising an autistic child in Aotearoa New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(3), 116–129.



Original Articles II