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Impact of Child Disability on the Family

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Families with disabled children represent a sizeable share of all American households. Living with a disabled child can have profound effects on the entire family, which in turn can affect the health and well-being of the child who is disabled. Much needs to be learned about how children’s health affects their parents, siblings, and other family members and about how family characteristics and resources modify those associations. Numerous programs and organizations provide resources for disabled children and their families, but the system is extremely fragmented and difficult to navigate. This commentary reviews what is known about the effects of child disability on the family, provides an overview of the complex needs of and multitude of resources available to families of disabled children, and concludes with suggested directions for practice, research, and public policy.

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The authors wish to thank the following individuals for helpful conversations: Diane Casale-Giannola, Chrystina Dolyniuk, Michele Kamens, Gail Morris, and Hugh Rockoff.


Drs. Reichman, Corman and Noonan received salary support from Grant #R01HD45630 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

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Correspondence to Nancy E. Reichman.

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Reichman, N.E., Corman, H. & Noonan, K. Impact of Child Disability on the Family. Matern Child Health J 12, 679–683 (2008).

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