Everyday life of families of children with special needs
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This study is about the everyday life of families of children with special needs. It aims to investigate everyday life of these families by looking at their own experiences of being a parent, their own perceptions and understanding of their children’s special needs and how they meet them. Moreover, this study focuses on family relationships and how these relationships impact on the family’s everyday life. The thesis is based on data which was collected by qualitative research. The Family Map method was used in interviewing four mothers who have children of school age with special needs. The interviews were conducted in January 2020. The children have different kinds of diagnoses. The empirical material was analysed using systematic text condensation strategy. The data was sorted into meaning units, and then condensed into six code groups and 21 sub-groups and discussed in line with theoretical approaches of the concept family, social construction, phenomenology and salutogenese. The findings of the study indicate the importance of support which is given to the families of children with special needs. The support can be emotional or practical and it might be given through interaction with the mother or with her child. Giving support to the family was a criterion for considering one to be a member of a family and was a criterion for inclusion in one’s own family. The findings revealed that the definition of family according to the mothers includes not only those with kinship relationships but also friends, neighbours and colleagues who were supportive to the mother and her child at the present time. The study concludes with emphasizing the impact of having supportive people surrounding the families of children with special needs, to help them to cope with life’s everyday challenges, empowering them to meet their children’s special needs and making their everyday life more predictable and less difficult. This study has implications for family therapy practice in terms of suggesting the inclusion of people outside the kinship group in providing help and support for families of children with special needs. The support which people give in addition to the support of one’s own kinship group would make a difference in the everyday life of these families and would enhance their well-being and their resilience. The effort families spend on bringing up their children is invisible and is taken for granted in some cases. This study highlights the efforts these families make in providing a sufficient, secure and predictable life for their children, according to the resources they have and the support they get from their families, friends, neighbours and colleagues.
Master i familiebehandling