.380 has a reputation being hard to control because most guns chambered for it are tiny pocket guns that weigh next to nothing and that you can not get much of a grip on.
That was my thought, as well. Overall, mass reduces perceived recoil; hence the recommendation for medium to large sized revolvers firing relatively mild .38 special. This would also give you the choice between single action and double action.
The other consideration is that the mechanics of a semiautomatic reduces recoil by converting some of the recoil energy into mechanical work (with my apologies to the physics majors out there if I didn't get the terminology quite correct). Perhaps the most extreme example of this among handguns is the Beretta PX4 compact and full-sized models, which have rotating barrels in addition to the usual slide action.
My daughter has a PX4 Compact, and it is an extremely soft shooter. I can imagine it or its big brother being an excellent choice for someone in your situation. [Note: Beretta also makes a subcompact pistol in the same line, and it lacks the rotating barrel feature. It is supposed to be a good little pistol in its own right, but you should be aware that it will have more recoil than its stable-mates.]