Parents of children with intellectual disabilities can experience difficulties associated with their care. Yet, insight into individual experiences is inadequate to guide effective responses to the needs of parents and their children with intellectual disability.
This study sought to explore the experiences of parents of children with intellectual disability with the aim of making these experiences visible to guide the design and provision of support services for the parents and their children. In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 parents of children with intellectual disability between the ages of four and 15 years residing in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Data were analysed using qualitative content analysis to explore themes that describe the experiences of the parents.
The study found that parents of children with intellectual disabilities encounter challenges looking after their children due to the negative perceptions associated with having such children. Financial costs and managing behavioural challenges of children with intellectual disabilities were also major sources of stressors for parents. Although informal support and assurances from professionals alleviated parental stress and gave them some hope about the future of their children, these support services seem inadequate.
A more structured support programme that includes financial empowerment of the parents and recognises the importance of early detection and intervention practices is needed.