Practice Issues in Sexuality and Learning Disabilities

By Ann Craft | Go to book overview

11

Rationale, approaches, results and resource implications of programmes to enhance parenting skills of people with learning disabilities

Alexander Tymchuk and Linda Andron


INTRODUCTION

While parenting is recognised as a right of all citizens, parenting by people with learning disabilities has and continues to be controversial (see Hayman 1990; Tymchuk et al. 1987). Some of this controversy has carried over from the past, but much of the information on which historical pejorative attitudes were based is replete with problems. In order to ensure that the right to be a parent is not wrongly limited for any person including people with learning disabilities, it is important to recognise the limitations of what we currently know about parenting by people with intellectual disabilities. The problems of this earlier information included limited empiricism, changes in and misuse of diagnostic criteria for mental handicap including the limited or even non-applicability of IQ to parenting adequacy/ inadequacy, lack of operationalised definitions of what constituted adequate parenting, a limited view of parenting outcome variables, lack of any systematic study of or services for parents with learning disabilities and lack of professional training related to parenting by such individuals (Tymchuk 1990a). Current information continues to suffer from many of these previous factors with a continued noticeable lack of any systematic effort for needs assessment with adequate responses to those needs. With this lack, there continues to be limited attention paid to traditional empirical principles such as operationalisation of concepts, reliability, validity and replicability of findings (e.g. Accardo and Whitman 1990; Whitman and Accardo 1990). There also continues to be the study of mothers with mental handicap only and not of the fathers of the children or current partners of the mothers; the study of only mothers who have come to the attention of agencies, and not those who do not come to the attention

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