Summary of Parental Responses to Children with Disabilities
Knoblock (1982) emphasizes the importance of educating and intervening on behalf of children with a disability in the context of a social system. The family is a major unit in the social system that should not be neglected. Parents are most important people for their children's successful growth, development, and learning. Throughout the history relating to education and related services for students with disabilities, parental rights, reactions, resources for coping responses, roles and responsibilities, and relationships with professionals have undergone tremendous change. Parents and other family members, including siblings, grandparents, and others in the extended family, are faced with a variety of feelings, reactions, and responses when having a child with a disability. These feelings, reactions, and responses may change as life goes on, especially when there are available supporting internal resources (the degree of perceived control of the situation, parental relationships, health, energy, morale, and spiritual perspectives, problems solving skills, and available financial and related sources) and external resources (friends, neighbors, professionals, and community agencies and organizations).
Parents roles and responsibilities also change in the family life cycle at each critical transition stage, including the couple, child bearing and preschool years, school age, adolescence, and adulthood. Through the changing roles and responsibilities of parents and other family members, family functions are fulfilled and the goals achieved. The relationships between parents and professionals have changed, too, including those between parents and medical personnel, educational personnel, and related supporting service personnel.
All the changes in parental rights, reactions, resources for coping responses, roles and responsibilities, and relationships with professionals have been in the same direction from passiveness and isolation toward activeness and integration. As we are moving in the next decade, evolutionary changes will continue for more inclusiveness and, we expect, more positive outcomes for students with disabilities.
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