Date of Award

2002

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Human Development

Advisor

Gary L. Schilmoeller

Second Committee Member

Marc D. Baranowski

Third Committee Member

Norman Autotte

Abstract

Grandparents (70) and parents (115) completed a survey about grandparent support, involvement, and helpfulness with grandchildren with disabilities. Grandparents reported on activities they did with their grandchildren and answered open-ended questions regarding who helped them learn about the grandchild's disability and what their general reaction was to the disability. Parents answered open-ended questions regarding what were the most and least helpful things that the grandparents did to help the grandchild with the disability. Grandparents' affectional solidarity was related positively to the number of activities they did with their grandchild. Grandparents reported that information and explanations about the disability were most useful in helping grandparents understand the grandchild's situation. Grandparents also identified professionals, parents and grandparents of other children with disabilities, and printed information about the disability as things they would have found helpful. Asked for general comments, grandparents shared both optimism and concern about the grandchild's future and the stresses on the parents of the child. Parents listed instrumental (e.g., financial, childcare) and emotional (e.g., unconditional love, praying for the family) support of grandparents as most helpful. Least helpful things included grandparents overstepping boundaries with the parents or the grandchild, not providing any or only minimal help, not understanding the grandchild's disability, blaming the parent for the grandchild's disability, and being overprotective of the grandchild. The results provide information that can be of assistance in lending insight into what grandparents and parents may want and need in terms of dealing with a disabled child. Grandparents and parents needs are discussed, as are limitations of the study, and suggestions for future research.

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