Early Intervention Services 0-4 yrs.

Pre School Readiness Skills 4-6 yrs.

School for Special Education 6-16 yrs.

Pre Voc & Vocational Centre 18+ yrs.

Recreational & Activity Club 5+ yrs.

Remedial Teaching Services Speech, OT,

Mental Disability

Stress Experienced by Mothers of Challenged Children

The mothers of challenged children experience a variety of sources of stress. They experience stress from the ageing process. They experience stress from the care they provide to their son or daughter with mentally challenged. They experience stress from whatever other responsibilities they may have, whether it be taking care of another family member or maintaining a job at the same time. These mothers also have access to a variety of types of support. For example, they have support from their family, from their husband and from their other children. They have support from their friends, which we call social support. And there is support provided, of course, by the formal service system, by the mentally challenged/ developmental disabilities service system, which supports a son or daughter with mentally challenged and sometimes support from the service system for older persons.

In addition to external support, the mothers also have personal, internal resources that they bring to this care giving challenge. They have coping abilities, some are more adaptive than others. They have a sense of being in control of the situation or not being in control. They may have positive self-esteem and they may have an optimistic or pessimistic outlook on their situation. We know all of these things make a difference as well.

All of this translates into the mother's level of well-being. As we know, all of these individuals have many, many different feelings. Some of them are conflicting and it is important to be mindful of all of them.

It is seen that mothers of challenged children maintain better physical health and cope better with depression as compared to other women of their age. There are some reasons for this. The first is that there is a self-selection process regarding the decision to rear their son/daughter with mentally challenged at home through adulthood. Some families who are experiencing a great deal of difficulty might not be able to maintain this relationship and may place their son/daughter out of the home before he or she reaches adulthood. But that's not the whole picture; living with the family is the norm, not the exception. Most persons with mentally challenged are living at home with their families. So we have to look beyond that for other explanations. Another possible explanation is that by now, the mothers have adjusted to the special responsibility of having a child with a disability. There is good evidence to suggest that the parents' level of distress is greater during the early years, shortly after the diagnosis of their son/daughter. Over a period of time, there's an adaptation process and the passage of time helps these mothers, as it does to all of us, adjust to life's circumstances. A third explanation is that the mothers may be deriving benefits from this relationship, both materially and emotionally. Some of the adults with challenge help their mothers with the management of the household.