Coping strategies of parents with physically disabled children at disabled schools in Plateau State: a descriptive study.
Liberty, Shilni Jacob.
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Introduction Parenting is no longer accepted merely as an interpersonal bond characterised by love and care. Instead, it has been reframed as a job that must be done well with some level of competence. Parents face different kinds of stress raising a typical child without disabilities. Parents of disabled children cope with the same responsibilities and pressures that other parents face, though with additional stress as reported by some parents. There is therefore a need to devise some workable strategies for such parents concerning how best to cope with the pressures of raising a disabled child. Aim This study aimed at describing the coping strategies utilised by parents with a physically disabled child in some selected schools for children with disabilities in Plateau State, Nigeria. Methodology A quantitative, non-experimental descriptive design was adopted for this study. A total of 54 parents of children with physical disabilities participated in the study. Data collection was facilitated using the Family Crisis Orientation Personal Evaluation Scale (F-COPES) developed by McCubbin, Olson and Larsen (1981). Data was organised using SPSS, Version 24.0 and was analysed through descriptive statistics. Validity and reliability were tested thus: the research instrument was given to the research supervisor and UKZN statistician for face validity to ensure that study variables were captured and are relevant to measure the constructs. Similarly, a pilot study was undertaken using the research instrument (F-COPES) on 10 volunteer parents with physically disabled children who were not included in the research respondents, to establish validity of the instrument components. To observe ethical consideration, respect to human dignity was upheld by obtaining the informed consent of the respondents. Likewise, for confidentiality and anonymity purpose, neither the participants’ names nor any form of identification were used in the data analysis to ensure privacy. The hard and soft copy of the analysed data was protected from the public; only the researcher and research supervisor have access to it. Results The descriptive statistics for the sub-scales showed that the most commonly used coping strategy was the social support coping strategy (M = 3.87, SD = 0.53). The second-ranked coping strategy used by parents was reframing (M = 3.43, SD = 0.80). The third-ranked coping strategy was mobilising family members to seek and accept help (M=3.29, SD = 0.73). This was followed by passive appraisal (M = 3.11, SD = 0.76), and lastly the spiritual coping strategy (M = 3.01, SD = 0.77). Conclusion The results of this study confirmed that there were significant relationships between gender, number of parents in a household, religion and coping strategies (reframing, passive appraisal and acquiring social support). Since the mean usage of acquiring social support coping strategy was higher among parents with a physically disabled child, professionals should encourage parents with children with disabilities to identify and utilise any social coping strategies they may find within their reach, and not to follow the crowd.