Mainstream families with children with special needs: a qualitative study of the process of coping
Snell, Susan Ann
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This study examines the coping process of families with children with special needs. The purpose of the study was to develop a detailed description of the coping process of families who appear to be coping well with children who have physical disabilities. A multiple-case study qualitative research design was selected to allow for the unique stories of each family to emerge as they illustrate the complex nature of the coping process. A contextual stress and coping theoretical framework guided the study. Participants were recruited from a preschool program that mainstreams children with special needs. A pool of ten potential participants was identified by a selection team consisting of six school staff members. Five families were selected and interviewed using the theoretical sampling procedure outlined in the grounded theory approach developed by Glaser and Strauss. Data analysis followed this same procedural model. The study revealed the ongoing coping process to be an iterative cycle of events, perceptions, behavior, and personal growth. This process was found to be influenced by the core concept of shared traumas as they are evidenced in the themes of initiation to special needs, boundary defining events and everyday reminders. An additional concept of the mastery process of the interaction between perceptual and behavioral components, included cognitive coping processes, faith, boundary definition and external systems management style. Finally, the phenomenon of personal growth and change in world view was observed.
- Masters Theses