Analysis of effective support for parents with learning difficulties

Title: Understanding and supporting parents with learning difficulties
Author: Parenting Research Centre and RMIT University
Published: 2002

The Parenting Research Centre produced this paper Understanding and supporting parents with learning difficulties to address issues related to providing effective support to families where one or both parents have learning difficulties. This has been a growing issue for professionals in health, education and welfare agencies. Unfortunately, the idea that parents with an intellectual disability are incapable of being adequate parents is a widely held view in the community.

It is often wrongly assumed that child abuse or neglect is an inevitable consequence of parenting by parents with an intellectual disability. Historically, such negative perceptions, combined with a paucity of scientific research in the area, have acted as barriers to reaching a constructive and informed understanding of the nature and challenges of parenting in the context of learning difficulties.

As more and more of these families are presenting to health and welfare agencies for assistance, there is increasing urgency for a systematic, coherent and practical approach to the development of effective practice.

Understanding and supporting parents with learning difficulties uses contemporary thinking, the latest research, and our own clinical experience. The paper identifies factors contributing to an over-representation of parents with learning difficulties in the child protection system. It also addresses issues related to the design and implementation of effective supports, specifically discussing clinical strategies that have shown promise in assessment and skills development programs.

Download paper