Do you have a child with a disability?
Parenthood is a unique experience where the joy of expecting the child frequently begins even before the child is born. Typically, parents anticipate the life long journey with their child with thoughts of pleasure, joy and adventure. They expect a healthy and happy life with their child. These expectations can be shattered if the child is diagnosed with a disability. Studies show that parents who have children diagnosed with disabilities are at higher risk of experiencing stress, depression and anxiety. However, many parents adjust well to the changes and challenges of having a child with a disability. Whilst parents might still grieve for the child they thought they were expecting many parents, over time, experience positive psychological growth including for example changing life values, beliefs and attitudes. This psychological growth can lead to resilient family functioning; that is, the ability to effectively manage difficult situations and learn from experiences to become strengthened and more resourceful. However, each family is different and each family has unique challenges that make it more or less difficult to adjust well to having a child with a handicap. One group of people who are particularly at risk for poorer adjustment are families of immigrant background.
Immigration to a new country with a different culture is challenging, complex and difficult. Regardless of the motivation behind the immigration, immigrants from for example Pakistan to Australia are faced with several barriers, including cultural, linguistic and social barriers. These barriers are particularly problematic when families have children with special needs. More specifically, Pakistani parents can find it hard to identify the right kind of emotional, social and psychological support and health care services for the child and themselves. In addition, to the already mentioned barriers, there are also culturally specific factors that can make it more challenging. For instance, the level of stigma towards individuals with disability and their families is very high in Pakistan and many people of Pakistani origan may feel too embarrassed or ashamed to approach for health services to get help and assistance, to the point that they try to hide their child’s disability. Hence, it is important to explore how cultural background may affect parents to develop a model of understanding on how to provide more effective healthcare, financial and social support for parents from culturally diverse background.
Researchers at the University of Newcastle are interested in studying the experience of culturally diverse people overseas or in Australia with a child diagnosed with developmental disability.
We are also interested in the experiences of people from other cultural backgrounds.
Shagufta Alam Hons (B.Psychology)
Dr Linda Campbell
This research has been reviewed and approved by the University of Newcastle’s Human Research ethics Committee, reference number, H-2014-0137. Should you have concerns about your rights as a participant in this research, or you have a complaint about the manner in which the research is conducted, it may be given to the researcher, or, if an independent person is preferred, to the Human Research Ethics Officer, Research Office, The Chancellery, The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia, telephone (02) 49216333, email Human-Ethics@newcastle.edu.au