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Journal of Human Growth and Development

Print version ISSN 0104-1282On-line version ISSN 2175-3598


SA, Sumaia Midlej Pimental  and  RABINOVICH, Elaine Pedreira. Understanding the family of the physically disabled child. Rev. bras. crescimento desenvolv. hum. [online]. 2006, vol.16, n.1, pp. 68-84. ISSN 0104-1282.

This descriptive, qualitative study aimed at identifying how low-income families manage to restructure themselves after giving birth to a child who is physically disabled due to Chronic Childhood Encephalopathy. Parents (n=11) from eight nuclear families with a physically disabled child attending a physiotherapeutic clinic/school in Salvador (Bahia, Brazil) were selected for semi-structured interviews followed by a socioeconomic and cultural survey. Through content analysis, data were grouped into eight thematic axes showing that among the many difficulties faced by those families were the loss of the object of desire, a decrease in income and social contacts, and emotional imbalance, which comprised the internal and external factors both contributing to an increased family stress and exerting heavy influence on family interactions. Families were shown to face their adversity by devising strategies for adaptation and solution seeking. It could be concluded that new ways of restructuring took place so that balance could be kept. A greater family and societal mobilization is needed towards the creation or support of public policies designed to validate the physically disabled as subjects and citizens. Given the importance of the matter and the paucity of studies in the field, further research should be carried out on the dynamics of family behavior for a better evaluation of the impact of physical disability on family structure.

Keywords : Family; Children; Chronic Childhood Encephalopathy; Physically disabled; Familial role.

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