B family characteristics and interactionsthe birth

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B. Family Characteristics and Interactions—The birth and continued pres- ence of a child with disabilities strongly influences the manner in which family members respond to one another 1. In many families, the mother experiences the most trauma and strain. 2. As the child grows, a mother must strike a balance between nur- turing and fostering independence. 3. Mothers often form dyadic relationships with their children with a disability. 4. The power structure of a family is often altered substantially by the arrival of an infant with disabilities. 5. Child care professionals need to work effectively and respectfully with all families, learning about their unique needs and responding with family-sensitive programs and interventions. 6. A child with a disability deserves attention and support of school personnel and other professionals no matter what type of family unit the child is a part of and the people who are the primary caregivers or legal guardians should always be invited to participate fully in any pro- grams or support services. C. Spousal Relationships—Balancing the roles of mother and of spouse may be complicated by the presence of a child with a disability. 1. The mother may become so involved with the care of the child that other relationships may lose their quality and intensity. 2. Although these feelings are typical of some fathers, others have the opposite response and become excessively involved with their dis- abled children’s lives, causing their partners to feel neglected. D. Parent-Child Relationships—The relationships between parents and children with disabilities are a function of many factors: 1. Mother-Child Relationships—If the child’s impairment is congeni- tal and readily apparent at birth, the mother often becomes primarily responsible for relating to the child and his or her needs. 1. If the infant is premature or needs extensive early medical treatment, a strong mother–child relationship may not develop dur- ing this period. 2. In other cases, the mother may be forced into a close phys- ical and emotional relationship with her son or daughter with a dis- ability.
3. Mothers’ expectations about their children and their func- tion in nurturing their son or daughter play a significant role in the preparation for adulthood and appropriate independence. 2. Father-Child Relationships—Information about fathers of children with disabilities is primarily anecdotal or qualitative. 1. Some research suggests that the child care involvement of fathers with children with disabilities is not significantly different than that of fathers of other children. 2. Fathers are more likely to internalize their feelings. 3. Fathers are typically more concerned about their child’s so- cial, educational, and career status, particularly if the child is a son.

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