Parents Expectations Of Developmentally Delayed Children

In this study, researchers wanted to “investigate the relation between children’s early characteristics and parents’ developmental goals for children at early adolesencse” (Clare 443). For 12 years, the researchers followed several families with children who had developmental delays by the age of three. As the children became early adolescents, the researchers questioned what goals the parents had for their children. It was found that the three most common goals were, “having positive self-esteem,”(94.2%), “using language to communicate more effectively,” (92.9%) and, “developing practical community-living skills” (90%) (451). Not surprisingly, the researchers concluded that parents with developmentally delayed children, who early on set goals of “basic daily living skills” as the highest achievement for their child, ended up with 13 year-old children who were the lowest functioning out of the study sample. These children were also educated primarily with other developmentally delayed peers. Contrastingly, parents who set goals for their delayed child that were similar to normal functioning children ended up with 13-year-old children who were among the highest-functioning of the study group. While they were functioning below their regular-developing peers, they were able to perform much higher level social and academic tasks.

For me, this was an extremely important finding to discover. After reading The Child Who Never Grew, I felt like developmentally delayed children probably aren’t as lucky as Carol to have parents who believe in and fight for their child’s education. I wondered what other parents thought of their disabled children and how that translated into their academic and social lives. This research serves as a reminder to teachers to hold high expectations for all students. If a teacher believes that a developmentally delayed student can do “x” and the parent thinks the child isn’t capable, at least the child has some potential to reach “x”. However, if both parent and teacher believe the child cannot reach “x”, she is doomed. All students need teacher and parents that hold them to high expectations.

The article can be viewed by clicking on FILES at the bottom of this page.

Submitted by Jeffrey Tomlinson