This research study was situated in the policies of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and motivated by the different ways parents from different socioeconomic groups navigate special education. IDEA requires parents to make informed decisions about their child’s special education needs. It assumes access to information is the same as having competency to navigate and utilize that information. In schools, much of the information in special education is provided in writing. The Parents Rights and Procedures manuals that describe parents’ rights throughout the special education process are often written at a high school and greater reading level. Parents of low socio economic status (SES) communities tend to achieve lower levels of education than those not of low SES communities. If parents of a child with a disability from low SES communities are unable to access the written information to make informed decisions about their child’s needs, how do they access and utilize information in their decision making process? How is their decision making experience impacted by the information they do/do not have when making decisions for their child’s special education needs?
This phenomenological study examined the lived experience of nine parents from low socio economic communities as they made educational decisions about their child(ren) with special needs. Each parent qualified for free and reduced lunch and had a child that was currently receiving special education services. The study utilized a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to identify both the details of the parents lived experiences and how each made sense of their experience. Through the lens of a Heuristics and Biases Framework, data was analyzed to identify key themes about the parent’s lived experiences.
Findings for this study were organized into themes that included the importance of communication, establishing positive relationships, the emotional toll on parents and difficulty finding information. Findings highlighted the significance of interactions in socio academic settings as well as how parents use the information they have to make decisions. The findings of this study add dimension to our understanding of this phenomenon and further develop the literature on the experiences and expectations put upon parents of children with a disability from low socio economic communities. The findings also have implications for further research, institutional attitudes and policies, as well as curricular and pedagogical approaches.
|Commitee:||Rice, Elisabeth , Parker, Maggie , Logan-Friend, Jocelyn , Ihrig, Karen|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Special education, Education finance|
|Keywords:||Decision making, Parents, Phenomenology, Procedures manual, Socioeconomic status, Poverty|
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