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Mothers' initial discovery of childhood disability: Exploring maternal identification of developmental issues in young children

Silbersack, Elionora W 2014

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  • Title:
    Mothers' initial discovery of childhood disability: Exploring maternal identification of developmental issues in young children
  • Author: Silbersack, Elionora W
  • Subjects: Early childhood education ; Special education ; Social work
  • Description: The purpose of this qualitative study was to expand the scarce information available on how mothers first observe their children's early development, assess potential problems, and then come to recognize their concerns. In-depth knowledge about mothers' perspectives on the discovery process can help social workers to promote identification of developmental disability in young children and facilitate service plans. A phenomenological design was chosen to capture the complexity of meaning within the shared experience of discovery. Data collection included in-person interviews and a follow-up e-mail contact with 18 mothers living in New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Connecticut. Ongoing comparative thematic analysis led to an outline of the process surrounding mothers' discovery of their children's developmental issues. The data suggest five major themes unfolding along a discovery timeline: For the majority of the mothers, instinct and close observation of their child's behavior led to an initial awareness of developmental concerns. Identification of problems emerged as the mothers pieced together feedback from informal social networks and formal evaluations. Next their reaction and responses to a growing recognition of delay or disability prompted advocacy efforts with service delivery representatives in the negotiation phase. Lastly the mothers considered the meaning of developmental challenges in an appraisal of motherhood and expectation for the future. Study findings on how mothers perceive early developmental problems can help to minimize the lag between concern and intervention, provide insight into service access, and inform social workers who advocate for social policies that expand resources for families with children with disabilities.
  • Publisher: ProQuest Dissertations Publishing
  • Creation Date: 2014
  • Language: English
  • Identifier: ISBN: 1303914409
    ISBN: 9781303914409
  • Source: © ProQuest LLC All rights reserved

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