The purpose of this study is to address the lack of research into the challenges and issues recoupled parents face when raising their step/biological children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) together in a stepfamily environment. Data shows clinicians, community support services, and policy makers are recognising that stepfamilies are the fastest growing family form to date and hypothesising stepfamilies will become the norm as the most prominent family form in most western countries. Ongoing research recognises the importance of understanding parents’ experiences and perspectives of having a child with ASD, and resourcing and managing their child’s everyday needs, behaviour and necessary treatments. Research exploring the parents’ journey of supporting a child with ASD will benefit families and other relevant formal and informal supports involved with that child. Stepfamilies are distinctly different to the nuclear family in design, origin and function. The researcher, through a small-scale qualitative case study, interviewed two recoupled parents to gain insights from their own personal and stepfamily experiences. This study has substantiated the existing research and highlighted other specific challenges and issues recoupled parents of children with ASD face. The researcher uses the term step/biological children throughout this article in recognition that the child/children is/are connected to one parent as a blood child and the stepparent through the biological parents’ choice in re-partnering. The outcome of this research indicates the need for recoupled parents to have a forum to express their subjective experiences in raising children with ASD. The interviewees articulated the need for further understanding from professional and informal supports when working with children and parents in a stepfamily form.


Stepfamily, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Recoupled Parents

Author Bio(s)

Sonia Cann-Milland whom is the first author, previously published “The Very Perplexed Stepmother: Step Motherhood and Developing a Healthy Self-Identity” (https://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol23/iss4/7) with The Qualitative Report in 2018. Sonia is a PhD student studying Stepfamilies and ASD. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: sonia.cann-milland@monash.edu.

Dr Penny Round whom is the second author supervises Sonia and teaches at the university. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: penny.round@monash.edu.


I would like to thank Penny Round for inspiring me to research and write this article. It is an honour to have written this with her.

Publication Date


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