1.1 Family – Concept, Definition and Characteristics

The family is generally regarded as a major social institution and a locus of much of a person's social activity. It is a social unit created by blood, marriage, or adoption, and can be described as nuclear (parents and children) or extended (encompassing other relatives).

The family is generally regarded as a major social institution and a locus of much of a person's social activity. It is a social unit created by blood, marriage, or adoption, and can be described as nuclear (parents and children) or extended (encompassing other relatives).

Meaning and Definitions

At the outset it is important to explain the sense in which the term “family” is used. The word “family” has been taken over from the Roman word, “famulus”, meaning a servant. In Roman law, the word denoted the group of producers and slaves and other servants as well as members connected by common descent or marriage.

(i) Family is “a group defined by a sex relationship sufficiently precise and enduring to provide for the procreation and upbringing of children.” MacIver

(ii) Family is “a group of persons united by the ties of marriage, blood or adoption; consisting of a single household, interacting and inter-communicating with each other in their respective social roles of husband and wife, mother and father, son and daughter, brother and sister creating a common culture.” Burgess and Locke.

(iii) Family is “a more or less durable association of husband and wife with or without children, or of a man or woman alone, with children.” Nimkoff.

(iv) Family is “a group of persons whose relations to one another are based upon consanguinity and who are, therefore, kin to another.” Davis.

(v) Family is “a miniature social organisation, including at least two generations, and is characteristically formed upon the blood bond.” Sumner and Keller

(vi) Family is “a system of relationships existing between parents and children.” Clare

(vii) Family is “the biological social unit composed of husband, wife and children.” Eliott and Merrill

(viii) Family is “a group of two or more persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption and residing together; all such persons are considered as members of one family.” The American Bureau of the Census

(ix) Family is “a socially recognized unit of people related to each other by kinship, martial and legal ties.” Anderson and Parker

(x) “Family is the institutionalized social group charged with duty of population replacement.” Green, Arnold





1) A mating relationship:

A mating relationship is the precondition to establish the family, without it family cannot be formed. The mating relationship or marital relationship may be permanent or temporary, it is immaterial but family cannot be thought of without it.


2) A form of marriage:

Marriage is the base of family. Marriage may be monogamous or polygamous or polyandrous and in any form. It is the social institution which helps to establish mating relationship and thereby family is formed.



3) A system of nomenclature and reckoning descent:

Each family is identified by a distinct nomenclature of its own. The members of the family are known by the nomenclature or by a distinctive name. The system of nomenclature involves a mode of reckoning descent. In different societies the descent is traced differently. In matrilineal society it is traced from mother and in patrilineal society it is from father. In some societies it may be traced from both father and mother.


4) An Economic Provision:

Every family has an economic provision to satisfy the economic needs of its members. All the members of the family more or less share with each other. Usually, it is the look out of the head of the family who tries to make all possible arrangement to provide economic comfort to his family members.


5) A common habitation:

Each family has a common home in which all the members can live together. A living or dwelling place is necessary to bear child and care child. Otherwise, child bearing and child rearing cannot be adequately performed in its absence.

Besides the general characteristics, a family possesses the following distinctive features which distinguish it from all other groups or association.


6) Universality:

Family is the most universal of all the groups, associations and institutions in the human society. It has existed in every society ancient, medieval and modern and is found in all parts of the world. Even the animal society is not free from it. In this connection, MacIver has rightly pointed out that, "It is found in all societies, at all stages of social development, and exists far below the human level among a myriad species of animals. Almost every human being is or has been a member of some family".


7) Emotional basis:

Family is based on emotional ties. All the members of the family are emotionally interwoven with one another. The emotions and sentiments of love, affection, sympathy, co­operation, friendship etc. find their expressions in the family particularly in mating, procreation and parental care.


8) Formative influence:

Each family has distinctive customs, traditions, mores, norms and culture. This family culture has a great influence on its members. All the members of the family are bound to observe the family rules and regulations. Family also teaches the social qualities like obedience, tolerance, sympathy, love, affection, and sacrifice. Above all, the family socializes the child, which helps in the development of human personality. Thus, family exercises most profound influence on its members.


9) Limited size:

Family is a primary group; as such its size is quite limited. Generally, family includes only those persons who are born in it and are closely related by blood relationship and adoption. In this way it includes father, mother and their children, so its size is small. Although there are groups smaller than family, but they are not so because of the biological conditions. Hence, biological conditions demand that the family should be limited in size.


10) Nuclear Position:

Family occupies a nuclear position in the social organisation. Different parts of the social organisation find its origin from the family. It is the center of all human activities. The social structure is built around it.


11) Responsibilities of the members:

In the family each members has unlimited responsibility. In other words, they have a deep sense of obligation to the family as a whole. They share the pleasure and pain, burdens and difficulties together and discharge their duties and responsibilities with a united spirit. MacIver has rightly pointed out that, 'In times of crisis men may work and fight and die for the country, but they toil for their families all their lives". In fact the members of a family have unlimited responsibilities and they make sacrifices for their families throughout their lives.


12) Social regulations:

Every family has its own customs, traditions rules and regulations. As an important agent of socialization the family teaches the norms and family culture to its members. The members are socialized in such a manner that they never dare to violate the family rules and regulations. That is why it is said that it is easy to establish a family but it is difficult to break or dissolve it.


13) Permanent and Temporary in Nature:

Family is both an institution and an association. As an institution family is permanent. In the family after marriage some members say son or daughter may leave the family of origin, with this the family never totally dissolves rather it continues to exist in some form or other as an institution On the other hand, as an association it is temporary. It is because family is the most changeable of all important organisaions. The family undergoes variations in its structures and functions from time to time.


1.2 Types of family

(A) On the basis of size and structure:

(1) Nuclear family – marital parents with or without children living in a common household.


  Decrease control of marriage conducted by the elders.

  Decrease control of men in marital life.

  Economic independence of  women.

  Smaller in size.

  Decreasing religious control and increasing secularity.

(2) Joint Family :- joint family is a group of small families usually father’s brother and their families live together under a common roof;, sharing a common property, common kitchen and common culture. Father or the oldest brother in this system head of the family, on whom rests the responsibility to make decision for the family members.


  Large size of family.

  Joint and undivided property.

  Residence under one shelter.

  Common religious practices.

  Bound by responsibilities toward weak and handicapped member of family.

(3) Extended Family: It is an extension of nuclear family. An extended family may live in a single or group of houses within a family compound or the group house can be spread over a place.

Extended family consists of father-mother their children plus close relatives of father and mother who continue to stay with the family.

Extended family secures economy in expenditure and advantage of division of   labor.

(4) Single Parent Family: The single parent family consists of one parent raising one or more children on his own. This family may include a single mother with her children, a single dad with his kids, or a single person with their kids. 

(B) On the basis of marriage practices:

On the basis of marriage practices sociologist has classified family into following types such as:

(1) Monogamous Family:

This family is based on Monogamy System of marriage, hence known as Monogamous family. This family consists of a husband and his wife. Under this type of family system neither husband nor wife is allowed to have more than one spouse at a time. Both of them are also prohibited to have extra-marital relationship. It has many other advantages because of which it is considered as the ideal form of marriage all over the world.

(2) Polygamous Family:

This type of family is based on polygamy system of marriage. As in polygamy one man marries more than one woman and vice-versa hence two type of family system is found to exists such as polyandrous and polygamous family.

(3) Endogamous Family:

This type of family is based on the endogamic principles of marriage. According to endogamic principles a man is supposed to marry within one’s own group i.e. within one’s own caste, sub-caste, race, varna and class. Accordingly the family which practices the rules of endogamy in marriage is known as endogamous family.

(4) Exogamous Family:

This type of family is based on exogamic rules of marriage. According to these rules one has to many outside one’s own group i.e. outside one’s own gotra, pravar, pnida and village. Accordingly the family which practices the rules of exogamy in marriage is known as exogamous family.

(C) On the basis of Authority:

On the basis of power and authority family may be classified into following types such as :

(1) Patriarchal Family:

The family in which all the power remains in the hands of patriach or father is known as patriarchal family. In other words in this type of family power or authority is vested in the hands of eldest male member of the family who is supposed to be the father. He exercises absolute power or authority over the other members of family. He owns family property.

After his death authority transferred to the eldest son of family. In this family descent is known through father line. In this type of family wife after marriage come to reside in his husband’s house. This type of family is widely found all over the world Joint family system among the Hindus is a fine example of patriarchal family.

(2) Matriarchal family:

This type of family is just opposite of patriarchal family. In this family power or authority rests on the eldest female member of the family especially the wife or mother. She enjoy absolute power or authority over other members of the family. She owns all the family property. In this family descent is known through the mother.

Headship is transferred from mother to the eldest daughter. Husband remain subordinate to his wife in a matriarchal family. Daughter after marriage reside in her mother’s house and her husband live with her. This type of family is found among the Nayers of Kerala and among the Garo and Khasi tribes of Assam.

(3) Egalitarian family:

The family in which power and authority are equally shared between husband and wife is called as egalitarian family. Both of them take joint decisions or assume joint responsibility. That is why it is called as equalitarian family. In this type of family both son and daughter jointly inherit property equally

(D) On the basis of Residence:

On the basis of residence family may be classified into following types:

(1) Patrilocal family:

The family in which after marriage wife comes to reside in the family of her husband is known as patrilocal family. The patrilocal family is also patriarchal and patrilineal in nature.

(2) Matrilocal family:

The family in which after marriage husband comes to reside in the family of her wife is known as matrilocal family. It is just opposite of patrilocal family. This type of family is also Matriarchal and Matrilineal in nature.

(3) Bilocal family:

In this type of family after marriage the married couple change their residence alternatively. Sometimes wife joins in her husband’s house while at some other times husband resides in wife’s house. That is why this type of family is also known as family of changing residence.

(4) Neolocal family:

After marriage when newly married couple establish a new family independent of their parents and settled at a new place this type of family is known as neo-local family.

(5) Avunculocal family:

After marriage when the newly married couple reside in maternal uncle’s house the said type of family is known as Avuncu-local family. Avuncu means maternal uncle.

(E) Family on the basis of descent:

On the basis of rules of descent or ancestry family may be classified into the following types:

(1) Patrilineal family:

This type of family is a common type of family prevalent all over the world. The family in which descent or ancestry is determined through father line and continues through father it is known as patrilineal family. The property and family name is also inherited through father line. The patrilineal family is also patrilocal and patriarchal in nature.

(2) Matrilineal family:

Matrilineal family is just opposite of the patrilineal family. The family in which descent is determined through mother line or continues through mother it is known as Matrilineal family. The property and family name is also inherited through mother line. This right transferred from mother to daughter. A woman is the ancestor of family. The Matrilineal family is Matrilocal and Matriarchal in nature. This type of family found among the Nayers of Kerala and among tribals like Garos and Khashis.

(3) Bilineal family:

This type of family is the family in which descent or ancestry is traced or determined or run through both father and mother.

1.3 Reaction and Impact of disability on family


 “Family is a group of persons united by ties of marriage, blood or adoption, constituting a single household, interacting & inter-communicating with each other in their respective social roles of husband & wife, father & mother, son & daughter, brother & sister and hence creating a common culture.”                        (Buiguess & Locke)

Reaction of family

The views that can be read from the literature include that the parents of the mentally retarded children are themselves somehow different from other parents because of having a mentally retarded offspring (Farber, 1959, 1960); that it is axiomatic (i.e., self evident truth) to have a mentally retarded offspring is to feel that disaster has struck (e.g. Schell, 1981) and that the best that a parent of a mentally retarded person could do was to institutionalize that person (Anonymous, 1973).

The early literature on parents of the mentally retarded persons presented the view that being such a parent somehow made them different from other parents. The early literature influenced as it was by the psychoanalytic view that children were extensions of the parents, implied that something was different about the parents (Benedek, 1959; Solnit and Stark, 1961; Waterman, 1948). Although there was no explicit doctrine indicating that these parents were different from other parents, this attitude has been adopted by some parents themselves as attested to by their own statements of worthlessness.

Another commonly held attitude is that having a mentally retarded child is traumatic. When people become parents, they have expectations regarding that the child.
Later in development, if there is difficulty, these expectations may change and it is at this time that such labels as developmentally delayed, slow learner and mentally retarded may be used with the parents. Parents are ill prepared for such words and for their implications regarding psychological, educational, or medical services. When a child’s delay is confirmed, parents have to enter systems that vary from those to which they have been accustomed and that are usually segregated form services used by other parents whose children do not carry such labels.

The reason for this divergence is the belief that special services are required for children bearing these labels. Segregation leads to low-self-esteem. Parents may resist the view on their own psychological capabilities or previous experience or support systems. They may accept professional help, but not the implications of that help.

On the other hand, those parents without support systems or strong psychological capabilities, might come back to believe in their own differences or the justification for low self-esteem.

Although the birth of a mentally retarded child usually requires some adjustment on the part of the parents, the reactions attributed to parents may be exaggerated and one still not well understood. The commonly held attitude is that it is evident that having a mentally retarded offspring is traumatic, derives from the psychoanalytic view mentioned above that the child is an extension of the parents.

The Impact of Disability on a Family

Having a family member with an intellectual disability can have an effect on the entire family; the parents, siblings, and extended family members. It is a unique shared experience for families and can affect all aspects of family functioning.

On the positive side it can broaden horizons, increase family members’ awareness of their inner strength, enhance family cohesion, and encourage connections to community. On the other hand, the time and financial costs, physical and emotional demands, and logistical complexities associated with caring for a disabled child/adult can have far-reaching effects. The impacts will likely depend on the type of condition and severity, as well as the physical, emotional, and financial wherewithal of the family and the resources that are available.

For families, caring for a disabled family member may increase stress, take a toll on mental and physical health, make it difficult to find appropriate and affordable child care, and affect decisions about work, education/training, having additional children, and relying on public support. It may be associated with guilt, blame, or reduced self-esteem. It may divert attention from other aspects of family functioning. The out-of-pocket costs of medical care and other services may be enormous. All of these potential effects could have repercussions for the quality of the relationship between family members, their living arrangements, and future relationships and family structure.

The day-to-day strain of providing care and assistance leads to exhaustion and fatigue, taxing the physical and emotional energy of family members. There are a whole set of issues that create emotional strain, including worry, guilt, anxiety, anger, and uncertainty about the cause of the disability, about the future, about the needs of other family members, about whether one is providing enough assistance, and so on. Grieving over the loss of function of the person with the disability is experienced at the time of onset, and often repeatedly at other stages in the person's life.

Family life is changed, often in major ways. Care-taking responsibilities may lead to changed or abandoned career plans. Female family members are more likely to take on care giving roles and thus give up or change their work roles. This is also influenced by the fact that males are able to earn more money for work in society. When the added financial burden of disability is considered, this is the most efficient way for families to divide role responsibilities.

New alliances and loyalties between family members sometimes emerge, with some members feeling excluded and others being overly drawn in. For example, the primary caregiver may become overly involved with the person with disability. This has been noted particularly with regard to mothers of children with disabilities. In these families, fathers often are under involved with the child and instead immerse themselves in work or leisure activities. This pattern usually is associated with more marital conflict. It is important to note, however, that there does not appear to be a greater incidence of divorce among families who have a child with a disability, although there may exist more marital tension (Hirst 1991; Sabbeth and Leventhal 1984).

The disability can consume a disproportionate share of a family's resources of time, energy, and money, so that other individual and family needs go unmet. Families often talk about living "one day at a time." The family's lifestyle and leisure activities are altered. A family's dreams and plans for the future may be given up. Social roles are disrupted because often there is not enough time, money, or energy to devote to them (Singhi et al. 1990).

Friends, neighbors, and people in the community may react negatively to the disability by avoidance, disparaging remarks or looks, or overt efforts to exclude people with disabilities and their families. Despite the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, many communities still lack programs, facilities, and resources that allow for the full inclusion of persons with disabilities. Families often report that the person with the disability is not a major burden for them. The burden comes from dealing with people in the community whose attitudes and behaviors are judgmental, stigmatizing, and rejecting of the disabled individual and his or her family (Knoll 1992; Turnbull et al. 1993). Family members report that these negative attitudes and behaviors often are characteristic of their friends, relatives, and service providers as well as strangers (Patterson and Leonard 1994).

Overall, stress from these added demands of disability in family life can negatively affect the health and functioning of family members (Patterson 1988; Varni and Wallander 1988). Numerous studies report that there is all increased risk of psychological and behavioral symptoms in the family members of persons with disabilities (Cadman et al. 1987; Singer and Powers 1993; Vance, Fazan, and Satterwhite 1980). However, even though disability increases the risk for these problems, most adults and children who have a member with a disability do not show psychological or behavioral problems. They have found ways to cope with this added stress in their lives. Increasingly, the literature on families and disabilities emphasizes this adaptive capacity of families. It has been called family resilience (Patterson 1991b; Singer and Powers 1993; Turnbull et al. 1993). Many families actually report that the presence of disability has strengthened them as a family—they become closer, more accepting of others, have deeper faith, discover new friends, develop greater respect for life, improve their sense of mastery, and so on.

While there are many commonalities regarding the impact of disabilities on families, other factors lead to variability in the impact of disability on the family. Included in these factors are the type of disability, which member of the family gets the disability, and the age of onset of the disability.

Consider the course of the condition. When it is progressive (such as degenerative arthritis or dementia), the symptomatic person may become increasingly less functional. The family is faced with increasing caretaking demands, uncertainty about the degree of dependency and what living arrangement is best, as well as grieving continuous loss. These families need to readjust continuously to the increasing strain and must be willing to find and utilize outside resources. If a condition has a relapsing course (such as epilepsy or cancer in remission), the ongoing care may be less, but a family needs to be able to reorganize itself quickly and mobilize resources when the condition flares up. They must be able to move from normalcy to crisis alert rapidly. An accumulation of these dramatic transitions can exhaust a family. Disabilities with a constant course (such as a spinal cord injury) require major reorganization of the family at the outset and then perseverance and stamina for a long time. While these families can plan, knowing what is ahead, limited community resources to help them may lead to exhaustion.

Disabilities where mental ability is limited seem to be more difficult for families to cope with (Breslau 1993; Cole and Reiss 1993; Holroyd and Guthrie 1986). This may be due to greater dependency requiring more vigilance by family members, or because it limits the person's ability to take on responsible roles, and perhaps limits the possibilities for independent living. If the mental impairment is severe, it may create an extra kind of strain for families because the person is physically present in the family but mentally absent. This kind of incongruence between physical presence and psychological presence has been called boundary ambiguity (Boss 1993). Boundary ambiguity means that it is not entirely clear to family members whether the person (with the disability in this case) is part of the family or not because the person is there in some ways but not in others. Generally, families experience more distress when situations are ambiguous or unclear because they do not know what to expect and may have a harder time planning the roles of other family members to accommodate this uncertainty.

The age of the person when the disability emerges is associated with different impacts on the family and on the family's life course, as well as on the course of development for the person with disability (Eisenberg, Sutkin, and Jansen 1984). When conditions emerge in late adulthood, in some ways this is normative and more expectable. Psychologically it is usually less disruptive to the family. When disability occurs earlier in a person's life, this is out of phase with what is considered normative, and the impact on the course of development for the person and the family is greater. More adjustments have to be made and for longer periods of time.

When the condition is present from birth, the child's life and identity are shaped around the disability. In some ways it may be easier for a child and his or her family to adjust to never having certain functional abilities than to a sudden loss of abilities later. For example, a child with spina bifida from birth will adapt differently than a child who suddenly becomes a paraplegic in adolescence due to an injury.

The age of the parents when a child's disability is diagnosed is also an important consideration in how the family responds. For example, teenage parents are at greater risk for experiencing poor adaptation because their own developmental needs are still prominent, and they are less likely to have the maturity and resources to cope with the added demands of the child. For older parents there is greater risk of having a child with certain disabilities, such as Down syndrome. Older parents may lack the stamina for the extra burden of care required, and they may fear their own mortality and be concerned about who will care for their child when they die.

As children with disabilities move into school environments where they interact with teachers and peers, they may experience difficulties mastering tasks and developing social skills and competencies. Although schools are mandated to provide special education programs for children in the least restrictive environment and to maximize integration, there is still considerable variability in how effectively schools do this. Barriers include inadequate financing for special education; inadequately trained school personnel; and, very often, attitudinal barriers of other children and staff that compromise full inclusion for students with disabilities. Parents of children with disabilities may experience a whole set of added challenges in assuring their children's educational rights. In some instances, conflict with schools and other service providers can become a major source of strain for families (Walker and Singer 1993). In other cases, school programs are a major resource for families.

When disability has its onset in young adulthood, the person's personal, family, and vocational plans for the future may be altered significantly. If the young adult has a partner where there is a long-term commitment, this relationship may be in jeopardy, particularly if the ability to enact adult roles as a sexual partner, parent, financial provider, or leisure partner is affected (Ireys and Burr 1984).

When the onset of disability occurs to adults in their middle years, it is often associated with major disruption to career and family roles. Those roles are affected for the person with the disability as well as for other family members who have come to depend on him or her to fulfill those roles. Some kind of family reorganization of roles, rules, and routines is usually required. If the person has been employed, he or she may have to give up work and career entirely or perhaps make dramatic changes in amount and type of work.

Children of a middle-aged adult with a disability also experience role shifts. Their own dependency and nurturing needs may be neglected. They may be expected to take on some adult roles, such as caring for younger children, doing household chores, or maybe even providing some income. How well the family's efforts at reorganization work depends ultimately on the family's ability to accommodate age-appropriate developmental needs. In families where there is more flexibility among the adults in assuming the different family roles, adjustment is likely to be better.

 The birth of a child with disability usually follows five stages in family :


1) Denial,

2) Anger,

3) Bargaining,

4) Depression

5) Acceptance

Coping Strategies

·        Parents deals with stressful situation in the following manner

·        By altering expectation

·        Amelioration/ To make better of the problem

·        By identifying with the problem

Coping Recourses

  Internal Resources

  Faith in god


  Self determination

  Problem solving skill

  Socio-economic status

  General & specific beliefs

  External Resource

  Community acceptance

  Strong extended family

  Supportive partner

  Close friends & relatives

  Non-judgmental professional

Inhibitors Of coping

  Poor physical health of family member

  Family problem

  Loss of support

  Lack of acceptance: Family, society, relatives , friends , coworkers

  Over indulgence by others and outsiders

  Misguidance by professionals

  Financial constrain

  Lack of information


  Behaviour problem

1.4 Needs of family and counselling

Across life cycles many challenges face the child with mental retardation, his or her siblings, parents, and other family members.

For example, during early childhood, issues regarding obtaining an accurate diagnosis, informing siblings and relatives about disabilities, locating appropriate services etc.

Family Counseling

·        Counseling is not advising, moralizing, praising, criticizing, logial argument, reasoning.

·        Counseling is a relationship characterized by genuineness.  

·        Raising a child with a disability, chronic health condition, learning difficulty, or a child that simply requires more attention than the others can be hard on a family.

·        Family Counseling can help such parents to become aware of what is happening, how it is impacting the rest of the family and also to look deeply at their own feelings and needs. Parents may be experiencing a great range of difficult emotions and also be facing further challenges.

Counseling Can Help

Parents of children with disabilities need help coping, strengthening their relationship, and learning how to take better care of themselves.

·         Learn That You Have Power. There are some things you cannot control, but there are many things you can. It helps to be reminded of the things you do have the ability to affect.

·         Balance Caretaking. You must learn to respect each other's style of caretaking and to communicate and negotiate caretaking roles, so that instead of simply reacting to situations, you can proactively address challenging problems.

·         Respect Emotional Difference. Different people process emotions differently. One person may grieve openly. Another may feel so overwhelmed that they find some activity to distract themselves. These differences are part of being human and each is valid for that person.

·         Process Feelings. In order to be there for your children, your relationship and yourself, you must move through the stages of grief in your own way. You must grieve the loss of the life you thought you were going to have.

·         Take Care of Yourself. To be there fully for your child with special needs, your typical children, and your significant other, you must learn to take care of yourself, both emotionally and physically.

·         Build a Healthy Relationship. You must also learn to take care of your relationship. If you thrive and your relationship thrives, your child with special needs will thrive to the best of his or her potential, and the whole family will thrive.

Benefits of Counseling

Counseling has the potential to improve your life, relationship and family in these ways—

Relationship grows stronger

Parents of children with special needs live with many difficult issues and frequently experience trauma, loss, and stress. In spite of these many difficult experiences, parents are also adaptive and resilient and are frequently very focused on the child. While this is appropriate and certainly necessary, parents can sometimes place their couple relationship on the back burner. Their relationship with the other children may also take second place simply because there are only two or four pairs of hands and only so many hours in a day. 

Function better both emotionally and physically

A child with special needs exposes parents to situations that they otherwise would not encounter. Parents may experience trauma at various times, such as at the time of diagnosis or in response to treatment, or when a child is hospitalized, particularly if the child has to spend long periods in hospital.

Some parents are more susceptible to traumatic stress triggers than others, perhaps particularly in times of great stress and uncertainty. Other causes of susceptibility include a parent's own difficult childhood experiences or previous traumas.

Better care for your child with special needs

In all these kinds of situations, both parents need to feel supported. Both of them need the opportunity to tell their story, without the need to minimize the impact of having a child with additional needs. They may also need to speak of their ambivalent feelings towards their child, without being judged. 

Probably the only place where this is really possible is in the counseling room with a family counselor who is empathic and has no agenda about how the parents should feel or be. The empathic listening of the therapist reduces traumatic arousal and helps parents to feel less isolated in their pain. 

Better family life for your typical children

Having a child with special needs means uncertainty, and this can cause ongoing stress for you and your family. Not knowing what the future has in store for your child means not knowing what you can plan for your own future. You may even have to change your lifestyle or vocation to care for your child.

Purpose Of Counseling:

·        Classifying issues involved in MR such as what it means. It terms of present condition and future expectation.

·         Classifying issues with regard to community effect on other sibling & their effect on CWID.

·        Getting the parents to accept emotionally CWID by enabling them to see relation of CWID need not considered or badge of dishonor and failure.

·        Getting the parents to realize that in some measure they are as a problem their child.

·        Getting parents to       more harmoniously with each other and their child.

Principles And Techniques Of Counseling  

·        Don’t say child will never talk or grown up.

·        At the same counselor will always attempt to present the realistic picture of the overall situation, it will give factual and true details. When parents themselves have noticed that all is not well and are anxious to seek advice.

·        It is essential to deal with both parents together.

·        The matters will be first discussed with parents sympathetically at their level of understanding after a full examination of particular decision.

·        As far as possible the solution of the problem, whatever it is, should be the solution that has been arrived by the parents themselves.

·        What is necessary to make account of the total family situation in counseling / of the particular child.

(Type of family/system/Area/surroundings)

·        Choice of word is significant issue it is desirable on the whole to avoid the using words which are traumatic in the affect feeble, minded, moron should not be used.


1.5 Role of family in rehabilitation of PWID

Role of families as collaborators

Parents and families of individuals with mental retardation have carried out many roles, some of them unwelcome or unjustified, some born out of necessity, and some of them eagerly embraced.

These roles were the sources of their child's problems, organization members, service organizers, recipients of professionals' decisions, learners and teachers, political advocates, educational decision makers, and collaborators (Turnbull & Turnbull, 1997)

Definition and meaning of family support

Family support has been defined ‘as any and all actions that serve to strengthen and sustain the family system, especially as these actions pertain to the family's assimilation and understanding of the child's disability’ (Dunlap & Fox, 1996).

Family Support

The support a family should be developed in partnership with the family, based on a family systems orientation, and implemented with the goal of strengthening family capacities.

Social and Emotional Support

Many people tend to see mental retardation as a tragedy, and some parents experience continuing disappointment and grief at all stages of the child and family's life cycle.

However, Sinclair (1993) whose child has autism stated that the grief does not stem from the child's disability in itself.

Rehabilitation has long lacked a unifying conceptual framework (1). Historically, the term has described a range of responses to disability, from interventions to improve body function to more comprehensive measures designed to promote inclusion (see Box 4.1). The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) provides a framework that can be used for all aspects of rehabilitation. For some people with disabilities, rehabilitation is essential to being able to participate in education, the labour market, and civic life. Rehabilitation is always voluntary, and some individuals may require support with decision-making about rehabilitation choices. In all cases rehabilitation should help to empower a person with a disability and his or her family.

Parents are the central and most important link in the care, education, and supervision of persons with intellectual disability (ID). Despite this major role, the literature tends to minimize their significance. Even in Israel, despite the great importance of family, the role of parents is rarely discussed. Professional literature dealing with parents' patterns of coping with raising a handicapped/disabled child describes a wide spectrum of patterns, ranging from reactions of mourning and crisis to those of acceptance. It is very important to examine parents as coping people and the developmentally disabled as children, adolescents, and adults with special needs.