‘My family and other families with a difference are both like and unlike the rest of the families on the planet. Both facts are important.’ (Featherstone, 1980, p. 240). Chapters 1 to 8 have shown how families of young children with Down’s syndrome differ from one another, what they have in common, and how they resemble families with non-handicapped children. In this final chapter, we summarise and draw together the main themes that have emerged.
In Chapter 1 we said that it is never possible to assume that we fully ‘understand’ a family. The information presented here shows how crude any generalisations about families of young children with Down’s syndrome must be. For this reason, it is not possible to offer any absolute and prescriptive rules for providing services, nor would we want to do this. Restrictions in the research methods that we used also caution against definite conclusions and generalisations. The data are based on the views and perceptions of mothers of children with Down’s syndrome under ten years of age. Clearly, the views of other family members are also essential, and the findings may not apply to older children or those with different special needs. The data is also not consistently longitudinal in all its aspects, which is important when investigating change over time in such a diverse group of families. Thus, the picture we have of families and their life styles can only ever be partial and must remain open to change and reinterpretation.
We feel that the strengths of the picture we present in this book lie in the representativeness of the families who participated in the research, the special long-term relationship we have with them and the comprehensiveness of the information we collected. Given this