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ERIC Number: ED521783
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 144
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1241-4895-3
The Mom Study: Parenting Stress and Attachment in Mothers of Young Children with and without Co-Morbid Special Needs
Caplan, Stacie
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Adelphi University, The Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies
Recent literature on the psychological adjustment of parents who have children with disabilities suggests that they encounter a range of challenges beyond those experienced by parents of typically developing children (Achiless, G.M., McLaughlin, M J , & Croninger, R.G. 2007; Brown & Pacini, 1989). This is particularly true when a special needs child presents with two or more diagnostic conditions, or co-morbidity of disorders (Janssen, C.G.C., Schuengel, C., & Stolk, J. 2002; Antshell & Joseph, 2006). Further, learning disabled (LD) children are particularly prone to co-morbid disorders, often with a behavioral or emotional component (Bagner & Eyeberg, 2007). The fundamental purpose of the current study was to examine parenting stress among mothers of children diagnosed with a learning disability and mothers of typically developing children. Current literature suggests that special needs children pose more parenting challenges compared to typically developing children (Achiless et al., 2007; Antshell & Joseph, 2006) however, it is not readily evident that they present more stress to parents than their typically developing peers. Additionally, if learning disabled children do exacerbate parenting stress, is this a function of the complexity and severity of the child's diagnosis? The current study brought to light the relationships among parenting stress, adult attachment style, and diagnostic status of children with and without co-morbid special needs. It was hypothesized that mothers of children diagnosed with a learning disability would report more behavioral issues in their children than their typically developing peers. In addition, it was hypothesized that mothers of children with co-morbid special needs, defined for this investigation as a child with behavioral problems (as measured by the Connors Rating Scale) in addition to a diagnosed learning disability, would report higher overall levels of parenting stress as measured by the Parenting Stress Index (PSI). Lastly, the investigation examined whether or not attachment style differences existed for mothers of typically developing children and mothers of children with a diagnosed learning disability. Mothers of children with a learning disability were recruited on-line both through their school affiliation and through on-line websites devoted to resources for children with special needs. Mothers of typically developing children were recruited in the same way as mothers of children with a learning disability except for recruiting on special needs websites. All mothers received the same on-line invitation to participate. All study participants were encouraged to pass the invitation along to other mothers asking for their participation. Participants completed on-line self-report measures that included a demographic survey, and measures of parenting stress, attachment style and behavioral functioning. The results revealed a significant effect of learning disability on parenting stress. Mothers who had a child diagnosed with a learning disability reported significantly higher levels of overall parental stress than those who had a typically developing child. In addition, mothers who had a child with a learning disability reported significantly more behavioral problems in their children than mothers of typically developing children. Lastly, the results revealed that mothers with an LD child had significantly higher attachment related anxiety than mothers who had a typically developing child. Results suggest that mothers' levels of parenting stress are differentially affected by their children's co-morbid special needs and may be further affected by the educational setting in which the child is placed. Although replication and a larger sample size are necessary to broaden the generalizabililty of the present findings, implications of the current study highlight the importance of helping mothers whose special needs children attend mainstream schools to identify and manage their parental stress. The goal of future research should be to examine strategies to ease the stress felt by mothers of children with learning disabilities and co-morbid special needs to foster better coping skills, better relationships and hopefully a better quality of life. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Conners Rating Scales; Parenting Stress Index