An exploratory study on stress and coping of parents of children with severe developmental disability in a special school

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An exploratory study on stress and coping of parents of children with severe developmental disability in a special school


Author: Choy, Ka-yu
Title: An exploratory study on stress and coping of parents of children with severe developmental disability in a special school
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2003
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Children with mental disabilities -- Family relationships
Parents of children with disabilities -- China -- Hong Kong
Stress (Psychology)
Department: Multi-disciplinary Studies
Dept. of Rehabilitation Sciences
Pages: vii, 100, [15] leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: Within the framework of co-operation between the family and school, as currently advocated by the Hong Kong Government, the stress on parents of children with severe developmental disability must be taken into account. Nevertheless, the circumstances of these parents are overlooked most of the time. With this unexplored area in view, the present study aims at providing an in-depth understanding of the stress factors encountered by these parents of children with severe developmental disability and at exploring their needs, as well as identifying their resources for coping. This study adopts a qualitative research approach using the case study method. Through semi-structured interviews with 10 parents of severely disabled children, much sophisticated and unique information has been collected. The rigor and reliability of the data has been enhanced through the strategies used, including prolonged engagement, peer debriefing and support, as well as member checking during the interviews and data analysis. In fact, the data analysis was based on the Social Ecology Model to examine the circumstances of those families with children suffering from severe developmental disability. The interaction between this family system and their subsystems was studied in depth, as well as the interaction between this and other societal systems. The stress and the resources of these families to cope with the problem have been identified under five major themes: a) attitudes and reactions of a family with a child with developmental disability; b) challenges in caring for children with developmental disability; c) the experience of parents of children with developmental disability receiving special education; d) social construction of disability; and e) support for parents caring for children with developmental disability. The findings of the study suggest that the stress and ability to cope displayed by parents of severely disabled children does not merely stem from the interaction between the parents and their child. It also comes from their interaction with other social environmental systems. In this sense, the factors of stress and the ability to cope reside in the dynamic and macro-environment. Nevertheless, to understand a family with developmentally disabled member, it is not sufficient to limit the study to the family member concerned. It becomes increasingly important to examine the family in the context of the wider social, economic and political realities.

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