Parenting a child with a disability is a unique experience, and both parents and children need to find the most effective parenting strategies. The purpose of this qualitative study is to gain a better understanding of the experiences associated with raising a child who has a disability. Specifically, this study examines what factors parents feel influence them in making decisions about their child and the expectations they have for them. In addition, it assesses how parents perceive they have modified their childrearing approaches and expectations for their child with a disability. To collect qualitative data, the investigator used narrative inquiry. This methodology was appropriate as eliciting specific stories and examples from participants allowed the team to capture the authentic experience of each one.
The primary investigator collected qualitative data through multiple interviews with parents who have children with disabilities. For purposes of this study, sampling methods were a mix between convenience and non-probability sampling. Parents included were those of children whose disability is primarily physical. The researcher conducted a semi-structured interview to examine the feelings, thought processes, challenges and overall life experience surrounding parenting a child who has a physical disability. Data was analyzed using a “constant comparative” method whereby the researcher constantly compares within the study the data being collected. Periodic review of the data, as well as summaries, helped identify trends warranting further analysis.
Overall, the results of this study indicate that parents and families perceive that they have needs that are not being met, empowering them to make certain parenting decisions. Based upon these perceptions, it would appear that there is a need for change in the types of services and information parents are receiving. While medical support is necessary, parents are also expressing a need for more practical forms of assistance.. This study explores several ways in which rehabilitation professionals might implement changes in order to accommodate these needs. Families whose children have disabilities expressed both a strong desire to provide the best possible care. What appears to be currently lacking is sufficient education and emotional support to channel their loving energy into setting higher expectations for their children, knowing how to effectively plan for and reach milestones, while being confident enough in their child’s abilities to afford them opportunities to take control of their own lives.
|Commitee:||Hartley, Michael, Kroeger, Sue|
|School:||The University of Arizona|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-B 79/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
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