Stresses in The Lives of Parents of Children with Disabilities: Providing Effective Caregiving

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

Families of children with significant developmental delays and disabilities must contend with stressors produced both by the prejudices and fears, the ‘countertransference’ reactions, of the larger society, and by the conflicts and griefs which arise within the family’s own interactions and dynamics. The nature and substance of these stresses are reviewed, both from a societal context and from the context of the nuclear family environment. Themes of social deviance, isolation, and blame attributi6n are examined, as are problematic parent – professional relationships, and the impact of a disabled child on various family subsystems. Therapeutic responses to chronic family stresses appropriate to a range of health care professionals are explored.

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