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Openness and avoidance–a longitudinal study of fathers of children with intellectual disability.

Journal article
Authors Petra Boström
Malin Broberg
Published in Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
Volume 58
Issue 9
Pages 810-821
ISSN 0964-2633
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 810-821
Language en
Keywords autism; Down syndrome; father; intellectual disability; learning disability; parents
Subject categories Psychology


Background Fathers' interactions with children who have intellectual disabilities (ID) or developmental delays (DD) have increased over the past few decades and may be expected to continue to increase as maternal and paternal roles, along with other gender roles, become more equal. The aim of the present study was to explore fathers' experiences of parenthood in relation to a child with ID/DD from the initial discovery of the disability to 5 years later. Methods Fathers' experiences of parenting children with ID/DD were explored in a longitudinal framework. Seven Swedish fathers of young children with ID/DD participated in a series of semi-structured interviews from 2005 to 2010, and their accounts were subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results The analysis revealed three themes: (1) An interrupted path – no longer taking things for granted, which describes the fathers' reactions to their children's diagnosis; (2) Being a good father, which describes the fathers' overall perceptions of their parenting of a child with ID/DD; and (3) Dealing with the unexpected, which describes fathers' individual ways of integrating, managing, and living with the knowledge of their child's disability over the 5 years during which fathers were interviewed. Conclusions Fathers' individual paths need to be taken into consideration when offering psychological support to families of children with ID/DD.

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