, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 100-108
Date: 16 Nov 2010

The Concurrent and Longitudinal Effects of Child Disability Types and Health on Family Experiences

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Abstract

This study examines the concurrent and longitudinal effects of children’s disability types and health on family experiences, namely, parent divorce, mother’s unemployment, and receipt of social welfare. The parent and school staff survey data for 1999 and 2004 from the Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study were analyzed, when the ages of children with disabilities ranged from 6 to 17. Weighted logistic regressions using Taylor Series Linearization were used to model the concurrent associations and longitudinal association between children’s disability types and health and family experiences. Models were adjusted to account for other children in the family with disabilities, sociodemographic characteristics, and other family experiences variables. Family experiences varied significantly by disability type in 1999. Compared with families of children with learning disabilities, parents of children with emotional disturbances were 81% more likely to get divorced, and 2.5 times more likely to receive welfare from 1999 to 2004. Mothers of children with a secondary disability were 81% more likely to be unemployed than those of children without a secondary disability. These findings indicate that specific disability types in children have an influence on family experience, and that some of those influences may persist over time. Families of children with emotional disturbances appear to be particularly at risk for negative family experiences. Clinicians, educators, and policymakers should be aware of the complex needs of families of children with disabilities when considering the types of services and supports provided to both children with disabilities and their families.

Xin Wei and Jennifer W. Yu contributed equally to this study.