Answered Questions: Monthly News for the Disability Community for January 2021 on Parents with Disabilities

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is: My partner and I are about to have our first child and I have a disability. What resources and information are available for parents with disabilities? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that address knowledge gaps regarding parents with disabilities; explore the support needs of parents with disabilities and the potential of a supportive intervention; discuss affordable and accessible supports for parents with psychiatric disabilities; and discuss strategies shared by mothers with physical disabilities. More about Answered Questions.

NIDILRR-Funded Projects:

The Parents Empowering Parents: National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities and Their Families addresses the knowledge gaps regarding parents with disabilities and their families through population-based research and analysis of national datasets to inform policy and practice; and the systematic analysis of state legislation and child welfare policies to identify facilitators and barriers to systemic change. Researchers are developing, adapting, testing, and scaling-up interventions for parents with disabilities. The center makes resources, tools, and training and intervention materials available through their accessible online portal. This center also supports the Disabled Parenting Project website where parents and family members may interact, share knowledge, and empower each other. Parents with disabilities may share their experiences with this center, which may be published in the center’s blog.

From the NARIC Collection:

The article, Parents with disabilities: A case study exploration of support needs and the potential of a supportive intervention, highlights the experiences, needs, and strengths of parents with disabilities, and explores the impacts of a parenting support intervention called Parent-Centered-Planning, This intervention was designed to assist individuals with disabilities in planning for their roles as parents and caregivers with an emphasis both on the parent planning for their own families’ futures as well as expanding and harnessing informal as well as formal supports. Researchers analyzed four case studies and found that parents with disabilities often have a limited number of formal and informal supports, that sources of informal support for parents with disabilities often had their own unmet needs, and that the overall support networks of parents with disabilities were fragile. The researchers also found that, even when participating in a parent-centered planning intervention that may not expand their support networks, these parents often do take steps toward meeting their self-identified support goals.

The article, Child protective service disparities and serious mental illnesses: Results form a national survey (in English) from the Temple University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Community Living and Participation of People with Serious Mental Illness (TU Collaborative) (in English), discusses a study that determined the prevalence of parenting among individuals with and without serious mental illness (SMI) and examined whether there was a difference in child protective services (CPS) involvement between the two groups. The results of the study showed the prevalence of parenthood was similar between people with (69 percent) and without (71 percent) SMI. However, parents with SMI were approximately 8 times more likely to have experienced a CPS contact and 26 times more likely to have a change in living arrangements compared with parents without SMI. The findings of this study support the need for greater attention to parenting among people with SMI and a better understanding of the factors associated with CPS involvement to reduce the identified disparities between parents with and without a mental illness. A reader-friendly Research In Focus summary of this article is available.

Research In Focus:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (in English), around 11 million adults in the US have a psychiatric disability. Many adults with psychiatric disabilities are parents and are much more likely to have their parenting abilities questioned by courts or child welfare agencies than their counterparts without psychiatric disabilities. The article, Parents with Psychiatric Disabilities May Benefit from Accessible, Affordable Legal Supports, discusses interviews conducted by researchers at the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities and Their Families. From these interviews, the researchers found that the parents’ responses focused on three main themes: the understanding of mental health by legal professionals leads to better experiences for parents; assistance of legal professionals is needed beyond the courtroom; and parents have ongoing legal needs.

Women with physical disabilities are about as likely to become mothers as similar-aged women without disabilities and they may need to use adaptations in order to care for their young children. The article, Mothers with Physical Disabilities Share Strategies to Care for Their Young Children, discusses another study from the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities and Their Families (completed under a previous NIDILRR grant) to identify and describe the adaptive strategies that mothers with physical disabilities used to care for their young children. The researchers found that mothers with physical disabilities may use a variety of strategies to care for their children effectively, from adaptive equipment to assistance from a co-parent. The researchers noted that online and in-person peer support communities may be a vital resource for mothers with disabilities to share information with each other.

Family Nursing:

Parents with learning disabilities pose profound questions to the philosophy and practice of family nursing. Family nursing is a practice where nurses assess the health of the entire family to identify potential health issues and risk factors, develop intervention, and support the health of the entire family. The article, Family nursing and parents who have a learning disability (in English), explores the neglected topic of adults who have learning disabilities and the problems they face when they become parents. The article also examines the issue of the rights of parents with learning disabilities and illustrates that when these rights are not upheld, they increase the vulnerability of these adults and their children. Finally, the article discusses the implications of these issues in the context of children’s nursing practice.

Health Outcomes:

The article, Do disability, parenthood, and gender matter for health disparities?: A US population-based study (in English), examines the health-related quality of life, obesity, and health behaviors between parents and nonparents with and without disabilities in the US and explores the differences in health outcomes separately for men and women by one’s parental and disability status. Researchers found that parents with disabilities, in comparison to parents without disabilities and nonparents with and without disabilities, were at higher risk of reporting frequent physical distress, obesity, smoking, and insufficient sleep. Among those with disabilities, fathers were more likely than nonfathers to report poor or fair health, frequent physical and mental distress, and obesity. These differences were not evident between mothers and nonmothers with disabilities. The findings of this study suggest the need for policies and programs that address the health-related needs of parents with disabilities, including targeted programs to support fathers with disabilities.


Further Research:




About Answered Questions Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned above is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDILRR Projects, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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