Informational needs of parents across the life cycle of their mentally-retarded child

Ellen D'Amato, Fordham University


This study was designed to (a) identify the information that parents feel is helpful at an IEP conference and compare this to the information that is mandated; (b) determine, prioritize, and compare the informational needs of parents at different stages in the educational life cycle of their handicapped child; and (c) determine if mothers' and fathers' informational needs at an IEP conference are different. The subjects in this study were 40 pairs of parents (mother and father) who had a mentally retarded child between 3 months to 12 years of age whose retardation was severe enough to require special education placement for more than 90% of the school day. All mentally retarded children had received or were presently receiving services at a Child Development Center sponsored by a central New Jersey Unit of the Association of Retarded Citizens. The age of the mentally retarded children at the time of the interview determined placement in one of the three comparison groups (0-2; 3-5; 6-12 years of age). A structured interview approach was used to collect the data. Results of the qualitative and quantitative analyses indicated that the interviewed parents had definite opinions that the interviewed parents had definite opinions about the most helpful information given to them at their last IEP meeting. Broad statements about their child's progress or test scores were not as helpful for these parents as precise behavioral descriptions or specific suggestions for home carry-over. Parents found those professionals who had the most contact with their child to be the most helpful participant at an IEP conference. The interviewed parents also expressed an ongoing and changing need for information and services across the life cycle of their mentally retarded child. The reported concerns of the interviewed mothers and fathers also differed. A major area of concern for the fathers was their child's future. Mothers, however, were concerned about more immediate problems. Specific suggestions to encourage greater parental participation and support at IEP conferences were discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Special education

Recommended Citation

D'Amato, Ellen, "Informational needs of parents across the life cycle of their mentally-retarded child" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8813572.