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Supporting the families of learning-disabled children

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Having a child with learning disabilities in the family can have a major impact on individual family members and the family as a whole. It can create tension as family members seek to reconcile their desire to be a 'normal' family, yet accommodate the differences in their situations and the roles they will be expected to fulfill.

Much as been written about how parents of children with disabilities adapt, although less has been written specific to children with learning disabilities and complex health needs, their siblings and other members of the extended family.

Process of adaption

The models that have developed to explain the process of adaptation outline a series of stages that parents are considered to pass through as they progress from the initial shock and confusion to a state of adaptation or adjustment to their new situation.1,2

As families move through the process of adaptation, they have to grapple with 'changed expectations for the child, altered perceptions for the future and an acknowledgement of being a different family'.3

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