Psychological Conditions of Families with Disabled Children

In the natural process of life, marriage and having children are among the important life events that make individuals happy. In every family as a whole, there are certain stressful events and periods that depend on the family system or each of its members going through certain stages of development. The child’s participation in the family is one of the most important transitional periods in the family’s life. The process, which begins with the decision to give birth to a child for the family, requires the reorganization of roles in the family, the creation of new routines and adaptation to changes that will occur in many other areas. The complement to being a family is often having children. Spouses want to have children for various reasons such as sometimes the product of their marriage, sometimes the sustainability of the family. Couples begin to dream about this issue with the idea of ​​a child. They base these dreams on the “perfect”, “healthy” and “normal” child. Spouses enter a new phase in the family life cycle with the birth of their children, and this is an additional stressful situation. Spouses also assume the responsibility of parenthood with their children. Having children affects the lifestyles of couples, their marital relations, the position of family members and accordingly their individual lives and causes parental stress. Therefore, the birth of a child marks the beginning of a new turning point in the life of the family. It imposes new roles on mothers and fathers and requires them to change their routines. He stated that the birth of a child requires adaptation to many changes, problems and a new life in the family. The developmental stages of the family should also be considered in parallel with the developmental stages of the child. However, the birth and development of children with different characteristics causes many changes in families. Many families want to have children to crown their marriage. The mother’s news of pregnancy is a factor that overwhelms the family. In this period, the mother creates the dream of the child to be born in her mind. In this dream, the mother develops the perception of the perfect child by being influenced by the expectations of herself, her spouse, relatives, close environment and social life. On the other hand, there may be anxiety that the expectations will not come true, but the family does not want to think about this possibility. With the understanding that a new baby will join the family, the first foundations of relations between siblings begin to be laid in the womb before the baby is born. In this case, parental attitudes and the preparation of the first child for the future of a new sibling are important in terms of their first reaction to their sibling. However, the initial reaction may turn from joy to anger after the first week. How much and how much preparation is required depends on the child’s personality, age and family circumstances. Even if there is no preparation, children notice the situation from the conversations, changes and the babies around them, and may experience anxiety because they cannot make sense of these changes (Başar 1994, Dunn 1995). For every family, the process of waiting for a baby is a period when dreams are made about that baby and the possibility of the baby’s disability is not generally considered. All preparations are for a normal baby. Understanding that the baby has a disability causes many families to experience mixed feelings. Learning that a child has a disability is a highly stressful event regardless of the degree of disability (Köksal 2011). The birth of a disabled baby brings with it intense emotions and concerns, along with the destruction of all positive expectations and dreams of the family. The birth of a disabled child in the family is a situation that negatively affects the lives, feelings, thoughts and behaviors of the members. With the birth of a disabled child, some changes are observed in family life. After birth, parents don’t know what to do, where to go, who to tell, what to ask, and they start to falter. They encounter questions about how the disability is in society anytime, anywhere. In this case, parents first have to inform and explain to their non-disabled children, family elders, close friends and neighbors, if any. Because sharing with the people with whom they are in constant interaction will relieve the parents and cause them to trust. The way in which the child’s disability is explained to the family for the first time and the information provided play an important role in the family’s mild or severe shock and their acceptance of the child’s situation in the future. Because it is not easy for parents to accept the reality of a disabled child, adapt to the situation successfully and rearrange their life according to this reality (Bayhan and Metin 1992).

According to Wolstenbenger, there are three types of crises that the first news reveals. Wolstenberger states that after the mentally disabled child joins the family, parents experience their first crisis when they learn that their child is disabled; their second crisis is when they need to reconsider their expectations of the disabled child; states that they are experiencing the third crisis while coping with the problems they encounter every day (Duman1995). These:

Innovation crisis: The family’s self-concept is the result of a change in the family and its future. This is not just a reaction to intellectual disability. It is also a reaction to the change of one’s circumstances. The novelty crisis is brief, and after the family recovers from the initial shock, other stresses begin to emerge.

Personal Values ​​Crisis: Many people want to achieve the ideal of race and success. Because of the emergence of a situation that develops with these values, personal values ​​crises occur.

Reality Crisis: In this crisis, financial concerns, the child’s limited ability to have a job, too much time spent caring for the child, etc. Many concrete facts emerge that the family of the disabled child will face.

The role of being the parent of a child with different characteristics is not a role chosen by the parents themselves, no mother or father prepares himself for this role. In general, families see their children as a work that will realize their thoughts, dreams and goals. The birth of each child causes changes in family life. Accordingly, these changes are acceptable in the family, since the developmental stages of the family and the child’s developmental stages continue in parallel. However, the developmental stages of mentally retarded children are slower and sometimes quite late compared to those of normal and healthy children. Having a mentally disabled child affects the developmental periods of the family more than healthy children. Emotional difficulties experienced by families with a disabled baby, inability to obtain sufficient information about the child’s condition, difficulty in explaining the child’s situation to others, behavioral and health problems related to the child’s disability, the necessity to consult many specialists in treatment and education, efforts to find appropriate education, more time , money and energy needs, and worries about the future of the child are important causes of stress for families. This stress they experience causes parents to develop attitudes such as not being able to communicate effectively with their children, having unrealistic expectations about their children, ignoring the emotional needs of the child, meeting only their physical needs, and even rejecting the child (Küçüker 1993).

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