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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reported social support seeking behaviour of fathers of elementary school aged children diagnosed with learning difficulties Lewis, Celia Ann


Using Q-technique, 15 fathers of children diagnosed with severe learning disabilities, sorted 41 statements concerning use of their potential formal and informal social network members. Additional demographic and descriptive data, and scores from the Perceived Social Support scales (Family, Friends), were used to analyze the possible effects of a number of variables on fathers' sorting patterns. Fathers reported their spouse as their primary source of support/information, and child's immediate school personnel as their secondary resource. Subdividing fathers into perceived-High and perceived-Low support groups indicated that the Low subgroup reported their spouse as their most significant social contact; also, that contacting School Board personnel was a somewhat more usual behaviour than for the High subgroup. As spousal support was clearly primary, fathers were also subgrouped according to their wives' employment, and thus their availability for support. Comparisons indicated fathers with working wives were more likely to report going to their informal intimate network (family, friends, spouse's family) and, to be notably more active in contacting various school personnel involved in their children's school difficulties. Fathers with at-home wives appeared to follow more traditional patterns of social interactions, with less school contact behaviour reported. Fathers differed on several demographics when subgrouped according to whether their target child was first-born, or subsequent-born (2nd or 3rd). First-born children were younger, were more likely to be enrolled in regular classes at present, and their mothers were more likely to be working. Additional data showed that 14 of the 15 target children were boys, and that the families had predominantly male children in total (28 of 32), an unexpected finding. Future research directions are discussed. In order to utilize fathers in the children's educational programme, suggestions axe pointed out for various school personnel, from the home room teacher to school board administrators.

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