“Let Me Just Tell You What I Do All Day…”: The Family Story at the Center of Intervention Research and Practice


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Abstract

Professionals who ask parents about everyday life with a child with disabilities can plan and implement interventions that will better support the family's daily routine. No intervention will have an impact if it cannot find a slot in the daily routines of an organization, family, or individual. We followed 102 families with children with disabilities for 15 years, listening to their descriptions of their daily lives. A major theme running through all the stories was accommodation—changes made or intentionally not made to the family's daily routine of activities due, at least in part, to their child with disabilities. Accommodations are usually adaptations to everyday routines, not responses to stress; are responsive to how children impact parents' daily routine, not to children's test scores; are related to parents' differing goals and values; do not fit a single script or model for what is good or bad parenting; and predict family sustainability of daily routines, rather than child outcomes. Accommodations can and do change—so interventions can indeed find their places. The practitioner participates in this “conversation” between the social structural constraints and opportunities of families and communities, the beliefs and values of parents, and the valuable contributions of the intervention.

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