Mothers’ Perspectives on Managing the Developmental Delay of a Child With Considerations for Contextual Influences and Maternal Functioning

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Developmental delay in very young children is trending upward. Maternal depressive symptoms are known to negatively impact child development and may also impact family management of the child’s condition. Research on family management guided this second phase of a sequential mixed methods study. The purpose of this study was to explore mothers’ perceptions of family management of their children’s developmental delays. Mothers of very young children who received early intervention services were interviewed. A team-based content analysis approach revealed key findings: (a) views of the child that were not holistic, (b) condition management ability was informed by what the mother thought her child needed, (c) views of condition impact were related to adapting to possible child outcomes and experiences of isolation, and (d) parental/caregiver mutuality was impaired by conflict. Understanding perceptions of family management and influence of depressive symptoms in this context is essential to extend assessment and intervention.

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