Influence of parental reactions to their child's disability on parental involvement and child development

Paula C Correia-Grayson, Pace University


The present study examined how a parent's reaction to their child's developmental disability was associated with their involvement in their child's special education program. It also explored the relationship of parent involvement and children's educational progress over time. What appears to have eluded the literature thus far is how the nature of parental reaction to their child's disability may relate to their involvement in the child's educational process. Past research has consistently shown the importance and potential benefits of involving parents in the education of their developmentally disabled children. Based on previous research three hypotheses were formulated. The first hypothesis stated parents of children with less severe disabling conditions would be classified as “Resolved” with respect to their child's diagnosis/disability as compared to parents of children with more severe conditions who would be “Unresolved.” Second, parents who were “Resolved” would be more involved in their child's educational program compared to parents who were “Unresolved.” Third, developmentally disabled children whose parents were more involved in their educational program would show more developmental progress than children of parents who were less involved. While both fathers and mothers were asked to participate, only mothers volunteered. The initial sample consisted of 50 mothers who agreed to participate. Each mother completed the Reaction to Diagnosis Interview (RDI) and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales at the beginning of the study and six months later. Each classroom teacher completed the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales - Classroom Edition and both teacher and teacher assistant completed the Parent/Family Involvement Index (PFII). Overall, the results supported two of the three hypotheses. Pearson moment correlation coefficients revealed that mothers characterized as “Resolved” on the RDI had children with less severe disabling conditions than mothers characterized as “Unresolved.” There was no significant relationship found between mothers' resolution and participation in their child's preschool program. Investigation of the third hypothesis found variability attributed to the different ratings given by the classroom teachers and teacher assistants. Partial correlations revealed that mothers who showed more involvement, as reported by the classroom teacher assistants, had children who showed more overall developmental progress. Conversely, mother involvement as reported by the classroom teachers was not significantly correlated with the child's developmental progress. Implications for the usefulness in identifying parents' reactions to their children's disabilities and further encouraging the importance of their school involvement is discussed. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Subject Area

Social psychology|Developmental psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Correia-Grayson, Paula C, "Influence of parental reactions to their child's disability on parental involvement and child development" (2000). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9975087.



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