OBJECTIVE. Through a content analysis of qualitative research published 1993–2011, we sought to determine how qualitative research can inform clinical reasoning among occupational therapy practitioners to support evidence-based, occupation-focused services for children and youth with autism and their families.

METHOD. A qualitative literature search of journals inside and outside occupational therapy, including international journals, yielded 125 articles. We reviewed 110 articles that met inclusion criteria, 79 of which were coded by four occupational therapists with experience working with families with a child or youth with autism.

RESULTS. Nineteen content codes were initially derived. Three themes were identified: (1) service challenges for the family, (2) day-to-day experience of autism, and (3) reframing family.

CONCLUSION. This content analysis illustrates how qualitative research may help occupational therapy practitioners make comprehensive, occupation-based intervention decisions by considering the lived experience of children and youth with autism and their families.

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