Adjustment and adaptation in parents of children with developmental disability in two-parent families: A review of the characteristics and attributes

Matthew Kwai Sang Yau, Wai Ping Cecilia Tsang

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64 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reviews recent literature to identify the attributes of an adjusted family and adaptive functioning of parents of children with intellectual or developmental disability within the two parent family structure. Despite the absence of conclusive findings, consistent patterns emerge in relation to a few factors that enhance family coping and facilitate parental adjustment to the birth of a disabled child. These include the quality of personal resources, a strong marital relationship, characteristics of the disabled child, participation in a parent support group, and availability of a small, intense social support network. A two-parent family with few children, high socio-economic status, with adequate crisis-meeting resources, and living in a supportive community appear to be associated with the ability to cope successfully with the stress and demands of having a child with disability. Being highly educated with a strong spousal relationship, a well adjusted personality prior to the birth of the child, a positive view and realistic expectation of their disabled children, and participating in a parent support group seem to lead to successful adjustment. However, parents or families with children with developmental disability are not a homogenous group, professionals need to treat every parent and family individually in their provision of assistance and advice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-51
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Disabilities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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