This chapter addresses the question of how we might best characterize the morale of mothers of children with disabilities. Views of this question have undergone substantial evolution over the past quarter century (Turnbull & Turnbull, 2002). Early writers on the topic emphasized negative impacts on the family. Farber (1959) characterized the birth of a mentally retarded child as a tragic crisis that over time impeded the family from developing normally. Olshansky (1962) described the typical reaction of parents to a child with mental retardation as long-term demoralization, which he termed “chronic sorrow.” These assertions were then followed by empirical studies suggesting high levels of depression in mothers of children with disabilities (Cummings et al., 1966; Gath, 1977). Gath (1977), for example, compared two groups of parents with and without children with disabilities on a researcher developed measure of psychological distress and found significantly higher levels in parents of children with disabilities. She titled her report, “The impact of an abnormal child upon the parents,” seeming to imply that emotional distress, perhaps even mental illness, was the most characteristic impact. This literature also appeared to imply that the cause of parental distress was univariate, that is, the child’s disability uniquely caused it. Early studies of parental distress selected child variables as the sole predictors of emotional distress (e.g. Beckman, 1983). Turnbull and Turnbull (2002) reviewed this literature and described this historical phase as pathogenic.
Singer, G. (2004), "9. A META-ANALYSIS OF COMPARATIVE STUDIES OF DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS IN MOTHERS OF CHILDREN WITH AND WITHOUT DISABILITIES", Alexander, K. and Hunter, R. (Ed.) Administering Special Education: In Pursuit of Dignity and Autonomy (Advances in Educational Administration, Vol. 7), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 189-221. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1479-3660(04)07009-XDownload as .RIS
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