Title

Advocacy Actions by Parents Raising and Child with Special Needs: Is There Occupational Balance?

Presenter Information

Andrea B. Sherwin

Start Time

25-10-2008 3:00 PM

End Time

25-10-2008 3:30 PM

Abstract

According to IDEA (2004), parents raising children with special needs are considered to be the primary advocates on behalf of their children. Considering this critical role, the literature in occupational therapy and occupational science related to parent advocacy actions is remarkably limited. The purpose of this study was to understand how increasing numbers of families balance the co-occupations of parenting, traditional care-taker challenges, with the emotionally draining and time-consuming task of advocacy on behalf of their child with a disability. Qualitative and quantitative data are presented from an Internet-based pretest-posttest control group study investigating parents' perceptions of their advocacy actions, barriers to advocacy, and levels of, self-determination, self-efficacy, and psychological empowerment on three measures after participation in an online training package, Advocacy in Special Education. The self-paced instructional information is based on theories of participation, social learning, and empowerment; unit topics were designed to increase participatory behaviors and empowerment: motivation, knowledge, and skills. Participants included a nation-wide sample of parents and legal guardians raising children (ages 5-21) with a variety of handicapping conditions in the United States. Data were analyzed using a statistical software package (SPSS) and parent reports were analyzed descriptively and thematically. Results from survey scores of 383 randomly assigned participants reveal significant differences between all measures after participation in the online course. Additionally, parents reported engaging in a multitude of advocacy behaviors including home and transportation modifications, written and verbal communications, and participating in parent-to-parent networking groups. Parent narrative reports analyzed using the occupational justice framework indicate a constant struggle for occupational balance between the dual parenting and advocate roles. Implications of this study are that the Internet is an underutilized method to gain insight in family-centered practice and may be a method to encourage and promote interaction with families raising individuals with disabilities. Relative to occupational science, evidence narrating parents' advocacy actions and their perceptions of empowerment levels will enable educators and practitioners to better understand the barriers and challenges continually faced by families raising a child or adolescent with a disability.

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Oct 25th, 3:00 PM Oct 25th, 3:30 PM

Advocacy Actions by Parents Raising and Child with Special Needs: Is There Occupational Balance?

According to IDEA (2004), parents raising children with special needs are considered to be the primary advocates on behalf of their children. Considering this critical role, the literature in occupational therapy and occupational science related to parent advocacy actions is remarkably limited. The purpose of this study was to understand how increasing numbers of families balance the co-occupations of parenting, traditional care-taker challenges, with the emotionally draining and time-consuming task of advocacy on behalf of their child with a disability. Qualitative and quantitative data are presented from an Internet-based pretest-posttest control group study investigating parents' perceptions of their advocacy actions, barriers to advocacy, and levels of, self-determination, self-efficacy, and psychological empowerment on three measures after participation in an online training package, Advocacy in Special Education. The self-paced instructional information is based on theories of participation, social learning, and empowerment; unit topics were designed to increase participatory behaviors and empowerment: motivation, knowledge, and skills. Participants included a nation-wide sample of parents and legal guardians raising children (ages 5-21) with a variety of handicapping conditions in the United States. Data were analyzed using a statistical software package (SPSS) and parent reports were analyzed descriptively and thematically. Results from survey scores of 383 randomly assigned participants reveal significant differences between all measures after participation in the online course. Additionally, parents reported engaging in a multitude of advocacy behaviors including home and transportation modifications, written and verbal communications, and participating in parent-to-parent networking groups. Parent narrative reports analyzed using the occupational justice framework indicate a constant struggle for occupational balance between the dual parenting and advocate roles. Implications of this study are that the Internet is an underutilized method to gain insight in family-centered practice and may be a method to encourage and promote interaction with families raising individuals with disabilities. Relative to occupational science, evidence narrating parents' advocacy actions and their perceptions of empowerment levels will enable educators and practitioners to better understand the barriers and challenges continually faced by families raising a child or adolescent with a disability.