Monday, February 18, 2013

Working with Families of Children with Low Incident Disabilities

Brodkin, Adele M. (2006). “That’s Not Fair!” Helping the Child with a Sibling Who Has Special Needs. Early Childhood Today, 20, 18-19.

Adel Brodkin has a Ph.D. in psychology. She is also a consultant and author of several books that deal with problematic behavior as well as a producer and writer of educational videos. In this article, Brodkin is approached with a difficult situation dealing with a sibling of a child with disabilities. The sibling is a preschool student who had been doing well in preschool until her younger brother with a disability joined the school. Before her brother’s attending of the preschool, Audrey had been a well-behaved, happy little girl. Brodkin suggests that the teacher quietly praise the young girl and plan activities that Audrey does well with. Brodkin suggests to the parents they have someone go along with them on outings and to the school so Audrey can have more time with her parents as well as counseling with a therapist that has experience dealing with families of children with disabilities. Though Brodkin’s suggestion seem to be valid, asking both parents to be around most of the time. Often with families affected by disabilities, one parent does all of the appointments, therapies, and work with the children while the other provides for the family.

Eberly, Jody L. (2007). Communication with Families Across Cultures: An Investigation of Teacher Perceptions and Practices. School Community Journal, 17, 7-26.

The authors of the article are professors in the department of early childhood education at the College of New Jersey. The authors state the purpose of the study is to help teachers learn how to work and effectively communicate with families of students from cultures different than their own. Their methodology was to develop protocol for two different focus groups. The sessions with the focus groups were tape recorded as they were interviewed. There were four themes the interview questions related to: “ways in which family values and beliefs impact learning, ways of communicating with and involving parents from diverse cultures, specific questions participants would like to ask parents about their cultural practices, and specific needs for professional development in working with parents from diverse questions.” The study found that defining culture is difficult, many participants understand the importance of understanding culture but still look at some beliefs as negative, had difficulty dealing with race and class differences, in diverse groups people are forced to confront cultural biases, and professional development programs would be beneficial to help teachers confront their cultural biases. The importance of understanding cultural diversity is also supported by Lam’s finding in her study. The reliability of this study should be called into question because of the small focus groups and the centralized area in which the study was done.

Lam, Sarah Kit-Yee. (2005). An Interdisciplinary Course to Prepare School Professionals to Collaborate with Families of Exceptional Children. Multicultural Education, 13, 38-42.

Sarah Kit-Yee Lam is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Counseling and Special Education and Rehabilitation at California State University in Fresno, California. Lam centered her study on determining what kind of methods could be used to teach professionals to work with families of students with exceptional children. Lam shows that effectively working with families is key to help students with disabilities succeed. Furthermore, she explains that being to work with families who are culturally diverse also affects the outcome of students with disabilities’ educations. Lam found that a course for future professionals could help them communicate families of children with disabilities including those with cultural differences, which supports Eberly, Joshi, and Konzal’s claim that professional development programs would be beneficial to help teachers confront their cultural biases. The limitations of the study include small sample, the centralization of the study in an area that may not be representative of other areas, and the method of collecting data may be skewed because of subjectivity.

Llewellyn, G., McConnell, D., Schneider, J., and Wedgewood, N. (2006). Families Challenged by and Accommodating to the Adolescent Years. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50, 926-936.

The authors of this article are faculty members at the Australian Families and Disability Studies Research Centre. This is an ecocultural study that centers on the difficulties faced by families of children with disabilities and strategies used to support the family routine to help the child with their development. The methodology of the families included interviews with families of adolescents with disabilities. The authors had the families deviate from their regular routines and studied the effect of the changes they made. The study found that the family routine stimulates the growth of adolescents with disabilities. The study also suggest awareness of cultural differences of the family can help professionals better support the families. The need for professional understanding of culture to helping the growth of the student with disabilities is supported by the articles by Lam, and Eberly, Joshi, and Konzal’s findings. Only 20 families were studied. Limitations to the study include the small sample size, the centralized area of the study, and subjectivity of the respondents.

Lord Nelson, L.G., Summers, Jean A., and Turnbull, A.P. (2004). Boundaries in Family-Professional Relationships. Remedial and Special Education, 25, 153-165.

The authors of this study are Professors of Education. The purpose of the study was to explore the development of the parent/professional relationship and the need for boundaries in these relationships. The methodology was to produce 34 focus groups of 107 participants in three states, Kansas, North Carolina, and Louisiana. The focus groups were diverse in their demographic characteristics. However the demographics do not prove to be representative of the population at large. The limitations of the study include subjectivity, lack of participation in all phases, no back translation, the lack of extensive data for sufficient analysis, and the study took more time than expected. The study suggests that professionals be accessible to parents so that there is an open line of communication about preferences based on their involvement with the students and the boundaries to the parent/professional relationship. By explaining their involvement preferences early in the relationship, the professional is less likely to go beyond the call of duty or be spread too thin.

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