COMPLETED RESEARCH

Modelling contextual influences on parents with intellectual disabilities and their children

Publications from this project

Wade, C., Llewellyn, G., & Matthews, J. (November, 2009). Modelling risk in vulnerable families. Paper presented at the Research by Higher Degree Students Conference of the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia.

Wade, C., Llewellyn, G., & Matthews, J. (July, 2009). Novel approaches to the examination of risk in vulnerable families. Paper presented at the Doctoral Students Conference of the Australian Pacific Rim Universities, Kyoto, Japan.

Wade, C., Llewellyn, G., & Matthews, J. (November, 2008). Success indicators of effective parenting interventions for at-risk parents and their children. Poster presented at the Cell to Society Faculty of Health Sciences Conference of the University of Sydney, Leura, Australia.

Wade, C., Llewellyn, G., & Matthews, J. (November, 2008). Consideration of Context in Programs For Parents With Learning Difficulties: A Review of the Intervention Literature. Paper presented at the 43rd Conference for the Australasian Society for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability, Melbourne.

Wade, C., Llewellyn, G., & Matthews, J. (2008). Review of parent training interventions for parents with intellectual disability. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 21, 351-366.

Wade, C., Llewellyn, G., & Matthews, J. (November, 2006). Success indicators of effective parenting programs for at-risk children: Conclusions from a review of parenting theories. Paper presented at the Cell to Society Faculty of Health Sciences Conference of the University of Sydney, Leura, Australia.

Wade, C., Llewellyn, G., & Matthews, J. (August, 2006). An analysis of parenting theories: Implications for our response to parents with intellectual disability. Paper presented at the 2nd International Congress of IASSID-Europe 2006, Maastricht, Netherlands.

Project team

Dr Catherine Wade
Prof Gwynnyth Llewellyn
Assoc Prof Jan Matthews (Parenting Research Centre)

Background

While parenting interventions have demonstrated benefits for families headed by parents with intellectual disability, they can be costly, time consuming, and have moderate to high rates of drop-out. Furthermore, not all parents benefit from these interventions to the same degree. Little is known about how mediating variables influence learning and skill development in families where a parent has an intellectual disability. Such knowledge is essential to promote best outcomes for the increasing number of children being raised in these families.

The relationship between parent, child, family and contextual variables and intervention outcomes in 120 Australian families headed by parents with intellectual disability were examined in this project. A theoretical model was developed to explain the pathways between context, parenting practices and child well-being for the sample and structural equation modelling was used to test these pathways.

Aim

This project aimed to identify the direct and mediated pathways between family context, parenting practices and child well-being among a group of Australian parents with intellectual disability who has been recruited via the Healthy Start National Strategy (www.healthystart.net.au). The influences upon intervention outcomes for these families were also examined.

Findings

Findings revealed that parenting practices had a direct effect on child well-being, that socio-economic disadvantage, parent health and social support were associated with child well-being via the mediator of parenting practices, and that parent mental health and access to social support had a direct influence on parenting practices.

Cluster analysis of families based on contextual risk indicators that the literature identified as influential to intervention outcomes, revealed two distinct and theoretically discernable groups of parents within the sample. The two clusters differed in parent mental health, partner support, the number of children living at home, child birth weight, child protection involvement and minority status of parents. However, intervention outcomes did not differ for the two clusters. Of the variables that contributed to the clustering of parents, only partner support was found to be associated with program completion. Structural equation modelling was also used to identify that partner support was associated with program completion.

Implications

The implications of the findings reveal that while the socio-environmental context in which the child is embedded is important to child well-being, the pathway via which a child’s wider environment impacts on his or her well-being is via parenting practices. In addition, the findings indicate particular aspects of the contextual environment of families that influence parenting (access to social support and parent mental health), which points to ways in which parenting interventions may be targeted to promote optimal child well-being. Furthermore, it appears that parents with little or no support from a partner are at increased risk for early discontinuation from programs aimed at improving their parenting. Cumulatively these findings have implications for practitioners wishing to target interventions to better meet the needs of individual families. The potential impact of such evidence is threefold: to ensure the highest rate possible of intervention success for all families; to reduce the risk of drop-out from interventions; and to reduce the high rates of child removal from the family.

Related publications

Wade, C., & Sartore, G. (September, 2009).A ‘Healthy Start’ for children of parents with learning difficulties: Applications for prevention strategies aimed at building capacity.Workshop presented at the ARACY National Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

Wade, C., Mildon, R., & Polimeni, M. (November, 2008).Using evidence based practice to improve family-practitioner partnerships: Case studies from the Healthy Start National Strategy.Paper presented at the 43rd Conference for the Australasian Society for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability, Melbourne.

Polimeni, M., Wade, C., & Mildon, R. (November, 2008).Lessons from Healthy Start, a capacity building initiative: Strategies used to promote training transfer. Paper presented at the ACWA Conference, Sydney.

Polimeni, M., Mildon, R., Wade, C., & Mayes, R. (2008).Sharing practice knowledge through Healthy Start Learning Hubs: An example of a whole agency approach.Paper presented at the 43rd Conference for the Australasian Society for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability, Melbourne.

Polimeni, M., Wade, C., & Mildon, R. (2008).The validity and implications of parenting capacity assessments for parents in vulnerable circumstances.Paper presented at the Queen Elizabeth Centre Conference, Melbourne.

Mildon, R., Wade, C., & Matthews, J. (2008). Considering the contextual fit of an intervention for families headed by parents with an intellectual disability: A pilot program.Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 21, 377-387.

Wade, C., Llewellyn, G., & Matthews, J. (November, 2007).Families at risk: implications for intervention.Proceedings of the Biennial Faculty of Health Sciences Postgraduate Research Student Conference, University of Sydney, Australia.

Wade, C., Mildon, R., & Matthews, J. (2007). Service delivery to parents with an intellectual disability: Family-centred or professionally-centred?Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 20(2), 87–98.

McConnell, D., Llewellyn, G., Matthews, J., Hindmarsh, G., Mildon, R., & Wade, C. (Winter, 2006). Healthy Start: a national strategy for children of parents with learning difficulties.Developing Practice: The Child Youth and Family Work Journal, 16, 34-42.

Mildon, R., Wade, C., & Matthews, J. (2006). Intellectual Disability and Parenting.Every Child, 12(1), 12-13.

Mildon, R., Wade, C., Hindmarsh, G., McConnell, D., Matthews, J., & Llewellyn, G. (2005).Healthy Start: A national strategy for children of parents with learning difficulties. Paper presented at the ARACY National Conference: Closing the know-do gap, Sydney, Australia.

Mildon, R., Wade, C., McConnell, D., Matthews, J., Hindmarsh, G., Llewellyn, G. (2005).Healthy Start: A national strategy to promote safe, supportive and stimulating environments for young children of parents with learning difficulties.Paper presented at the 40th Australasian Society for the Study of Intellectual Disability Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.

Clayton, O., McConnell, D., Mildon, R., Hindmarsh, G., Wade, C., Llewellyn, G., & Matthews, J. (2005).Healthy Start: A national strategy for children of parents with learning difficulties.Paper presented at the 5th Annual Conference for Disability Support Workers, Melbourne, Australia.

Matthews, J., Mildon, R., & Wade, C. (November, 2004).Development & Implementation of Parenting Supports for Parents with a Disability: Introduction.Paper presented at the 39th Australasian Society for the Study of Intellectual Disability Conference, Adelaide.

Mildon, R., Wade, C., & Matthews, J. (November, 2004).Development & Implementation of Parenting Supports for Parents with a Disability: Key findings.Paper presented at the 39th Australasian Society for the Study of Intellectual Disability Conference, Adelaide.

Wade, C., Mildon, R., & Matthews, J. (November, 2004).Parents’ views on service delivery to parents with an intellectual disability.Paper presented at the 39th Australasian Society for the Study of Intellectual Disability Conference, Adelaide.

Wade, C, & Mildon, R. (2004).Parent-child interactions and parents with an intellectual disability. Paper presented at the Sixth Biennial National ECIA Conference, Broadening the Vision, Building Cohesive Communities for Children and Families, Melbourne, Australia.

Wade, C., & Mildon, R. (September, 2004).Parenting and parents with intellectual disability.Invited lecture at RMIT University to Intellectual Disability Students, Melbourne, Australia.

Wade, C., & Mildon, R. (June, 2003).Parenting IDEAS program: Parents with special learning needs.Invited presentation at the Kids in Care Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

Wade, C., & Mildon, R. (August, 2004).Working successfully with parents who have an intellectual disability.Invited workshop at the Eastern Metropolitan Region Student Disabilities Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

Wade, C. & Mildon, R. (July, 2004).Working with parents who have learning difficulties: Issues and challenges, half day workshop. O’Connell Family Centre, Melbourne, Australia.

Mildon, R., & Wade, C. (2004).Embedding best practice skill development strategies into current family support practices: Working with parents with an intellectual disability and their young children.Paper presented at the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (OMEP) Congress ‘ One World: Many Childhoods', Melbourne, Australia.

This research was supported by project funding from the Australian Government through the Early Childhood - Invest to Grow Initiative and through a Post-graduate Primary Health Care Scholarship from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia.


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