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Families and Childhood Disabilities

Valerie Leiter


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Families of children with disabilities experience challenges that other families do not face. They may experience stigma as a result of having a child with a disability and may perform health care and advocacy work for their children beyond that performed by other families. The extent of these additional concerns varies tremendously across families, depending upon the nature and severity of the children's disabilities and the social context in which the meaning of the children's disabilities is interpreted and acted upon. At the individual level, some children may have disabilities that affect their functioning slightly, while others may have disabilities that affect their functioning severely, across multiple areas, including physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning. At a broader social level, some children with disabilities live in families and communities that attempt to eliminate social barriers that could result from disability, while others live in social contexts that do not strive to promote children's full participation. While it is important to acknowledge these ways in which children with disabilities and their families are “exceptional,” it is equally important to acknowledge that families of children with disabilities are in many ways just like other families. Over the past four decades, parents of children with disabilities in the US, UK, and Canada ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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