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Chapter 8 Societal, Family, and Multicultural Characteristics © Taylor & Francis 2015
SOCIETAL CHARACTERISTICS Exercising individual rights often requires that a person is competent and gives consent. Rights may be abridged through the courts appointing a guardian. Guardianship is a court action in which someone alleges that a person with disabilities cannot give consent. At the age of adulthood (sometime referred to as the age of majority), one is assumed competent to give consent; IDEA requires students be informed of their rights at this age. Having a CID does not necessarily translate into lack of competence and the ability to give consent. People with CIDs do have interactions with the justice system. © Taylor & Francis 2015
SOCIETAL CHARACTERISTICS Guardianship Continued People with CIDs tend to be the victims of crime at a higher rate than those without disabilities. Within the justice system, individuals may not be treated as competent witnesses or excluded from giving testimony. Those individuals accused of crimes should have legal assistance from the outset of the process. Many offenders with CIDs have experienced sexual or physical abuse themselves. Treatment (or supports) may be needed over the life span. © Taylor & Francis 2015
SOCIETAL CHARACTERISTICS Guardianship Continued The right to treatment across the life span has been legally established. The AAIDD established individualized support planning. Determining what type and level of supports are needed involves identifying relevant support areas, identifying relevant support activities in each area of functioning, and evaluating the level or intensity of supports. © Taylor & Francis 2015
SOCIETAL CHARACTERISTICS Person-centered planning includes the principles that the individual is the most important part of the planning and that family, friends, and significant others also should be involved. The abilities, talents, and aspirations of the individual should be considered rather than just the disabilities and a broader implementation approach should be used, which includes generic services that are local and informal as well as more formal services delivered through paid providers. Where children live may affect their system of supports in terms of frequency and types used. Funding for services to provide treatment is more focused now on community-based supports. © Taylor & Francis 2015
FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS Parents have historically been perceived as the source of a child’s disability although the actual cause is often unknown or attributable to other factors. Parents of individuals with disabilities generally want to be involved in their child’s education and treatment. Parents can and do undergo stress related to a child’s characteristics, especially the presence of a problem or behavior. Parents report positive feelings about their children with CIDs as well as stress associated with child rearing. Early childhood is a critical period for most families and individuals with CIDs. SES, maternal stress, age, education, early intervention services, and other factors can affect children’s developmental gains and family adjustment. Early intervention services should be family centered, not just child focused. Research on siblings of individuals with CIDs has yielded mixed results concerning the effects on the siblings. Siblings and other family members have reported good adjustment following placement of the individual with CIDs into a residential program. © Taylor & Francis 2015
FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS The effects on siblings is influenced by many variables, such as family size, birth order, gender, and coping styles. Planning across the life span is a major concern for most families. Planning and the outlook on the future can be affected by having fewer models of expected behavior, rituals of adulthood (e.g., marriage) may occur less frequently, and transition planning may not provide sufficient options. Transition planning and programming is critical and should take into consideration individual characteristics, family well-being, family involvement, and environment and culture. Defining adulthood for the individual with CIDs can take several forms, including physical maturation and level of functioning or competence. The rituals and rights of adulthood should not be denied to individuals and their exercise should be encouraged and taught. © Taylor & Francis 2015
FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS People with CID are entitled to vote and should be educated about the process. Moving out may take longer and occur later in life but can be achieved by many individuals; culture can also influence whether this represents a rite of adulthood. Marriage is less a requirement of adulthood now but should be available; protections against abuse and exploitation are needed, however. Sexual consent is a complex concept. One study suggested at a minimum an individual should understand the nature of sexual activity and be able to protect oneself. Research has indicated individuals with CIDs do have socio-sexual knowledge. Individuals with CIDs become parents and have their own families. © Taylor & Francis 2015
FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS Overall levels of stress and stress associated with child age and living in a crowded environment were evident in 82 mothers with CIDs. Authors have noted myths exist about parents with CIDs, including they will have children who themselves have CIDs, and more than children with parents without disabilities; that they cannot be adequate parents; and they cannot learn parenting skills. Supported parenting programs provide education and assistance in raising children. Because CID occurs more frequently among people living in poverty, many young women may find themselves raising their children in less than optimal environments. Early intervention programs can teach parenting skills and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect. © Taylor & Francis 2015
MULTICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS Culture is an element of the AAIDD’s Dimension V: Context which defines the multidimensionality of CIDs. Context involves the immediate social setting; the neighborhood, community, or organizations providing services or supports; and cultural and social beliefs. Overrepresentation of individuals from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds remains a problem in special education. Sociological and demographic factors include race/ethnicity and poverty and other associated factors. African-American males in particular are overrepresented in special education. Culture and associated beliefs and values can affect transitions and adjustment; research indicates parents who are culturally/ linguistically diverse do report involvement in preparing their children for transitions. © Taylor & Francis 2015
MULTICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS Culture should be thought of in broad terms encompassing geography, religion, sexual orientation, and disability status. Families from different cultures may have different perspectives on how to solve problems. Educational factors also interact with the multicultural nature of society. School reform efforts – the IDEA requires provisions be made for students with disabilities to participate in state and district assessment programs; some researchers stress the need to focus on individual progress rather than group performances over time. Demographics of the teaching corps – most teachers are White and most school administrators are males; teachers from ethnic/cultural minorities are underrepresented among the nation’s teachers; multicultural education in preparing teachers is controversial but may be helpful. © Taylor & Francis 2015
MULTICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS Overall demographics of the United States indicate that the population is changing. English language learners present challenges and how best to educate these students generates controversy as they are also overrepresented in special education. © Taylor & Francis 2015
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