Academic journal article The Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation

The Role of Support Groups in the Cooperation between Parents of People with Intellectual Disabilities and Professional Staff

Academic journal article The Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation

The Role of Support Groups in the Cooperation between Parents of People with Intellectual Disabilities and Professional Staff

Article excerpt

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Abstract

Introduction: One of the ways of building and developing a better cooperative relationship between parents of people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities and professional staff is the inclusion of parents in support groups for parents and staff in support groups for staff.

Goal: To examine the correlation of the level of cooperative relationship between the parents of people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities and professional staff with the inclusion of parents in support groups for parents and staff in support groups for staff.

Methodology: Respondents: parents (296) of people with severe and profound learning disabilities and staff (298) in five centres across Slovenia; Methods: descriptive statistics, test of homogeneity, the rankit method, one-way analysis of variance; Procedures: survey questionnaires for parents and staff. The data was processed using SPSS software for personal computers.

Results: The difference between the variances of the groups (parent) found is statistically significant (F = 6.16; p = 0.01). Staff included in support groups have a significantly lower level of cooperative relationship with parents (f = 10; M = - 0.12) than staff not included in these groups (f = 191; M = 0.04).

Conclusion: In contrast to theoretical findings the results indicated less successful cooperation for professional staff included in support groups. The results furthermore did not confirm any differences in the cooperative relationship of parents included in support groups and those who are not. We suggest an in-depth analysis of the workings of support groups.

Keywords: parents of people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities, professional staff, support groups, cooperative relationship

Introduction

Cooperation between the parents and professional staff

Cooperation between the parents of people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities (hereinafter: parents) and professional staff of different profiles: occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, special teachers, social workers, psychologists (hereinafter: staff) is important to be able to understand and support people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities - persons with special needs (hereinafter: PSN) in their decision-making and inclusion in society. It is known that owing to their specific needs they require more professional help from various staff, their parents need more support, and the staff need more specialist knowledge and skills. Services for PSN include staff of various profiles and require mutual coordination of their activities. The results of studies (1, 2) confirm that good cooperation between parents and experts is significantly correlated to better learning outcomes and personal satisfaction of PSN. This finding is also reflected in the Slovenian Placement of Children with Special Needs Acts (3) which gives parents the right to be involved in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of their child's individualized programme (IP). Both staff and parents have different views on this right and whether it is exercised depends on their knowledge, skill, will, ability and need to be involved (4, 5). The parents' statutory right to participate in developing the IP is an opportunity for a joint review of the development of PSNs, the factors in their environment, achieved skills and competences, planning of their learning, the implementation of the learning process and achievement evaluation. This helps ensure more effective services for PSNs.

The responsibility for managing this process is the statutory duty of staff. Parent-staff cooperation is influenced by a number of factors, particularly the interactive style and family competence in the families of parents and of staff, knowledge, their personal traits and beliefs, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, adaptive ability, the capacity in both groups for external and internal observation and their comparison, problem-solving skills, organisational skills and mutual support. …

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