Disability and the Family Life Cycle

Disability and the Family Life Cycle

Disability and the Family Life Cycle

Disability and the Family Life Cycle


The study of disability and its clinical treatment has become exponentially more complex as ever more interventions are developed that increase the life span. Consequently, developmental challenges facing people with disabilities and their families change throughout a lifetime.

Unlike other texts, which concentrate only on the childhood years, Disability and the Family Life Cycle covers the entire life span within the family context, emphasizing maturational issues, with each chapter focusing on a different period of life. Disability and the Family Life-Cycle is the only book to cover such topics as adult sons and daughters with disabilities, the developmental needs of the disabled elderly, and the needs of spouses and siblings.


If we draw a line as to how much of a life we can live, we all lose.

--Leigh Campbell-Earl in Disability Rag ReSource, 1993, p. 10

Quality of life has been described as "the degree to which the person enjoys the important possibilities of his or her life" (Woodwill,Renwick,Brown, & Phahael, 1994, p. 67). This book provides an understanding of the psychological issues and practical problems faced by children with disabilities and their families throughout different stages of the life cycle. In this context, we are concerned with issues that affect the quality of life of the family unit as well as individual family members. Too often family members are viewed as "resources" for persons with disabilities rather than as having individual needs as they progress through life stages (Slater &Wilker, 1986, as cited in Smith,Fullmer, &Tobin, 1994, p. 34).

It is important to understand disability experiences from a developmental perspective. First, many of the problems experienced by families and individuals with disabilities stem from a clash between developmental needs and access to necessary opportunities and resources. Persons with disabilities are often regarded as children far beyond the end of childhood itself (even after entering adulthood). Consequently, needs that naturally arise after childhood are often not addressed in a time-appropriate manner. This period of extended childhood often segues into a premature "retirement" phase during which men and women with disabilities are often regarded as having few new options left in life. Developmental timelines may be skewed by virtue of the disability itself, but much of the asynchronicity between developmental needs and lifestyle is due to a failure to provide opportunities to develop capabilities throughout all phases of the life cycle. This is apparent in areas of life such as sexuality, marriage, career, and . . .

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