Mothering school aged children with and without disabilities in Singapore: The lived experience

Cheng, Michelle Inn Inn (2007). Mothering school aged children with and without disabilities in Singapore: The lived experience MPhil Thesis, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland.

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Author Cheng, Michelle Inn Inn
Thesis Title Mothering school aged children with and without disabilities in Singapore: The lived experience
School, Centre or Institute School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Associate Professor Sylvia Rodger
Subjects 3609 Occupational Therapy
Abstract/Summary In order to provide best practice occupational therapy services, time needs to be taken to establish partnering relationships between therapists and parents. Therapists need to understand mothering and how the mother child relationship is enacted for each individual client. This enables the provision of contextually relevant therapy in order to increase clients’ participation in meaningful occupations. Qualitative studies on the lived experiences of mothering with different types of mothers provide therapists with further understanding of this important life role. This qualitative research study sought to explore the lived experience of Singaporean women who mother school aged children with or without disabilities. In-depth interviews were utilised with fourteen Singaporean mothers to explore the experiences of the role and occupations related to mothering in order to gain an understanding of the meaning of mothering for these women. Two groups of participants were recruited for the study: mothers of children without a disability (seven) and mothers with at least one child with a disability of school age (seven). Results and discussions are presented based on descriptions of: (1) the role of mothering, (2) the lived experience of mothering and (3) the similarities and differences between the two groups of mothers. The predominant themes that emerged from this study are: (1) mothering children with disabilities is not dis-similar to mothering typically developing children and (2) mothers of school age children with disabilities are able to participate in home therapy programmes. The implication of these results is that it is important for health care professionals to empower mothers of children with special need to “mother individuals” who are unique with their own strength and weaknesses rather than mother a “child with disabilities”. Other significant themes which emerged from this study were categorised as: (1) “sameness” of the mothering experiences, (2) mothering children with disabilities affords these women expanded roles, opportunities and experiences, (3) significant mothering roles for Singaporean women are being a teacher and decision maker, and (4) mothering creates positive life and self development opportunities. It is proposed that important therapy goals for health care professionals working with families of children with disabilities of school age include: (1) education programmes that empower mothers to vision and direct therapy services for their child with special needs, (2) developing and enhancing community participation and engagement for families of children with disabilities via the utilisation of community social supports such as religious organisations, self help groups and by strengthening inter-generational family ties and (3) promoting the participation of “normalising” family occupations. These include participation in meal times, family leisure activities, community engagement and celebration of festive occasions. This enables maintenance of positive and healthy family interactions for families with a member who has a disability.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 16:16:48 EST