Mental Handicap: Dilemmas of Parent-Professional Relations

Mental Handicap: Dilemmas of Parent-Professional Relations

Mental Handicap: Dilemmas of Parent-Professional Relations

Mental Handicap: Dilemmas of Parent-Professional Relations

Synopsis

The author examines the problems facing parents of mentally-handicapped children and the responses of doctors, psychologists and teachers who work with them.

Excerpt

In academic, popular and official literature a great deal has been written about parent-professional relationships. They are often represented as being fundamentally important and valuable for all the parties involved. A range of platitudes is used to describe such relationships including, ‘partnership’, ‘participation’ and ‘co-operation’.

Parents are increasingly being involved in primary schools to help listen to children reading, indexing the library books or preparing other resources. Since the 1980 Education Act more parents are now involved in membership of the governing bodies of schools. Also, the 1981 Education Act can be seen as an extension to parents’ rights. (Wolfendale 1986)

However, the theme of parent-professional relationships is a contentious one, in that it involves questions of decision-making, choices, priorities, rights and power. Part of the difficulty with such language as ‘partnership’ is not only its imprecise nature and the ways in which it can mean different things to different groups of people, but also, it is an ideal which is concerned with what could be, or should be, as opposed to what is. Despite all the exhortations it would seem that the realisation of such ideals has hardly been met. Indeed, such rhetoric can be viewed as a ‘smoke-screen’ that obfuscates the realities of a very different set of conditions and experiences. From a parent’s perspective these can be characterised by mistrust, frustration, anger and bewilderment. In the recent Report on ‘What LEAs tell Parents under the 1981 Education Act’ Rogers (1986), the failure of LEAs to inform parents of their rights or to clarify what the

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