Children’s Relationships: Family Relations in Children with Disabilities


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Initial Reaction of Parents to Child Disability


Individual differences

Not always orderly, sequential


·        shock/denial

·        depression, anger

·        reorganisation, acceptance

Post-traumatic growth, strength


Subsequent Impacts on Parents




Stress and Coping


Factors Influencing Stress


Child Characteristics

            Type of Disability


            Age of Child


Parent Characteristics

            Personal Coping

            Marital Status

            Marital Adjustment


            Financial Resources

Perception of Situation


Impact of Disability on Siblings


            Brothers vs. Sisters

            Age Factors

            The Older Sister

Adult Relationships




Intervention Strategies with Families with Disabilities


Special Considerations for Developing Family Centred Treatments


•  Child centred & family focused


•  Comprehensive array of services


•  Individualised service plan


•  Least restrictive, most normative environment


•  Families full participation


•  Use informal family supports


Some Basic Principles about Intervention with Families with Disabilities


            Families are the experts on family caregiving, and they should be in charge of

            the care of their family member. (Empowerment)


            Most families want to and can succeed at caregiving (Positive approaches-

                        Recognise and build on the strengths of all family members.)


            Families can learn much from one another- not just from professionals


            Professionals can help with basic information as consultants to families who

                request assistance (Co-operative partnerships).


            The whole family should be involved in the care, not just one person.


            Families are all different, and the unique needs of each family must be fully



Comprehensive Intervention for Families with Children with Intellectual Disability


            A. Infancy and Early Childhood Services

                                    Diagnostic/Prescriptive Services

                                    Therapies-Physical, occupational, speech, medical etc

                                    Cash Subsidies-support payment, vouchers

                                                Family Support Service, home modifications,

                                                parental leave


                                    Respite care

                                    Case management


                        Early Intervention

                                    Infant/parent intervention- reciprocity/synchrony,

                                                engaging parents & infants, stimulation &

enrichment training

                                    Developmental day care

                                    Behaviour management


                        Parent Education and Support

                                    Personal coping, juggling skills

                                    Problem solving skills,

                                                household management

                                                empowerment training

                                    Advocacy. training

                                    Behaviour management

                                    Child development enrichment

                                    Parent to Parent groups- info & skill sharing; support

                                    The value of training and support from lay persons, peers of the

                                                same ethnic and social background


            B. Middle Childhood, Adolescence

                                    Special Education

                                    Advocacy training, legal information

                                    Career & life skills preparation

                                    Siblings- info, support, peer training


   Return to PSYC 4650 Opening Page