Abstract marriage. Children with special needs are as much

Abstract Marriages are a source of joy and fulfillment to many people, but to some; they can be challenging. Parents of children with special needs experience more challenges that those who have normal children. However, having a special child should not be a reason for a dysfunctional or sore marriage. Children with special needs are as much a blessing as others and their parents can have an easier time caring for them when they have access to better facilities and resources. Parents of children with special needs are required to make more adjustments to make sure that their children lead normal lives. Although parents of children face several challenges in raising them, the problem is usually overlooked. Members of the society leave the burden of attending to special children to parents who in most cases have to stretch beyond their limits to cater for the needs of such children (Sobsey, 2004).  The study focuses on the challenges associate with raising children with special needs with the aim of establishing better system and coping techniques for parents. With better coping strategies, parents can adjust to the situation and enjoy marriage life. The study aims at testing the two hypotheses: first, raising a child with special needs affects the bond between parents and second, challenges associated with raising a child with special needs affect the wellbeing of parents and that of children. The descriptive study design was used to facilitate data collection and planning. According to the study findings, challenges leads to an increase in the parental stressors that causes strain the bond between parents. However, existence of challenges does not necessarily weaken the bond between partners. In fact, the bond tends to grow stronger in some relationships (Doron & Sharabany, 2013). Literature ReviewIntroductionMarital relationships are a source of support, protection from life’s strain and stresses when they work well. However, marital relationships are not devoid of challenges; some of which are not within the couple’s jurisdiction. Usually, children are considered a great blessing to a married couple and inability to bear children can be devastating. While children with special needs are as much a blessing as normal children, there are several challenges associated with raising a child with disability. Parents of children with special needs are required to make more adjustments to make sure that their children lead normal lives. Past researchers have always portrayed marriages of parents whose child or children have special needs as difficult, dysfunctional and highly likely to end in a divorce. The challenges associated with raising children with disability cause strain in the marriage making it difficult for parents to bond and enjoy their union. However, this does not always have to be the case for parents of children with special need. With better coping strategies, parents can adjust to the situation and enjoy marriage life (Sobsey, 2004). The paper explores the challenges of raising children with special needs with the aim of establishing viable coping strategies. Family Setting and ChallengesOver the past few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of divorces in the United States. This trend has been mainly linked to changing social and marital setting. Today, almost half of the marriages end up in a divorce which draws attention to the challenges that affect the institution of marriage as a whole. Among the major factors that have attributed to the increased rate of broken marriages are disputes about the allocation of power or control, financial challenges, heightened levels of immorality and pursuit for freedom particularly among educated women. Besides, the easy access to legal services to dissolve marriages and the breakdown of social norms that held the institution of marriage together have also contributed to the heightened levels of divorce. Parents of children with disability face these challenges in addition to the greater task of bringing up a child who requires more attention, medical care and love. Such families are likely to face more financial challenges than normal families of an equal economic ability (Algood, Harris & Hong, 2013). As a result, parents of children with special needs are at a higher risk of experiencing more challenges in marriage than those with normal childrenMarital Stability and SatisfactionOnce a couple gets married, there is high anticipation and expectations from the society, family and friends that the couple will raise children. Traditionally, children were the main uniting factor that brought partners together enabling them to overcome obstacles in their marriages. According to Sobsey (2004), certain aspects associated with raising children with special needs result in high rates of marital discord, dissatisfaction and eventual separation or divorce. However, in the real world, the same factors used to measure functionality or dysfunction in marriages of parents of children with special needs is used on normal marriages. Moreover, research findings indicate that divorce rates are equal for both groups. While most parents of children with special needs tend to stay married, there is a small but statistically significant increase in the number of divorce for these parents.  Although divorce rates are higher in the world today, there is a need to ensure that parents of children with disability support each other. Since impaired children require more attention, care and love, it is beneficial that their parents experience less marital challenges for the good of their children. However, this can only be achieved through the establishment of proper support systems for such parents (Tossebro & Wendelborg, 2017). Support for Parents of Children with Special NeedsRaising a child with congenital anomaly can either strengthen or break a family depending on its foundation and resilience. Family values play a significant role in determining how well parents accept the responsibility of caring for a special child. Although raising a child with special needs can be challenging, many people have had life changing experiences while raising and interacting with special kids. In other cases, raising a child with special needs has transformed parents to become better people or even push them to pursue courses of greater value to humanity. According to Douglas et al.(2003), parents of children with special needs can cope better if they have access to better support systems. It is important to note that raising a child with special needs does not always have to be the parent’s burden but the burden of all humanity. In addition to monetary support by the government, members of the society should play a role in supporting parents of children with disabilities. This will facilitate better coexistence and coping for both the parents and children hence reducing the challenges faced in raising them. Summary and Gap AnalysisParents of children with special needs face many challenges many of which they deal with alone. The lack of support for such families makes it harder for parents and their children to cope and lead normal lives. While researchers have addressed the challenges of raising special kids, there minimal attention on how such experience affect the bond between parents and their ability to enjoy their life in marriage (Doron & Sharabany, 2013). The study seeks to present evidence that will ensure more support for parents of children with special needs to help guarantee their wellbeing.Hypothesis        i.            Raising a child with special needs affects the bond between parents?      ii.            Challenges associated with raising a child with special needs affect the wellbeing of parents and that of childrenMethodIn conducting a study, the choice of appropriate methods of data collection including a research design, target population and sampling technique is paramount. A research design refers to the overall strategy that you choose to integrate the different components of the study in a coherent and logical way, thereby, ensuring you will effectively address the research problem; it constitutes the blueprint for the collection, measurement, and analysis of data. The research problem determines the type of design. According to Creswell, (2009), it helps to generalize the findings provided that due care is taken while designing the questionnaire, selecting the sample size and using appropriate statistical method in analyzing data. A descriptive study is appropriate if description is informative. Secondly, descriptions are the starting point for identifying variables and building hypothetical constructs that can be tested using other methods. Besides, the descriptive study design is effective in studies whose main objective is to establish the state of affairs concerning a particular topic or subject. In the context of this study, the target population was defined as the totality of objects or individuals under consideration of which the statistical attributes may be estimated by the study of a sample or samples drawn from the whole.  The target population defines those units for which the findings of the survey are meant to generalize. In conducting the study, the student targeted families of children with disability in New York City. To come up with a sample, the student applied the snowball sampling technique. Under this technique, the researcher identifies a few participants with the attribute of interest who then recommend others. This technique was useful since it is difficult to identify all families of children with special needs. The researcher identified a sample of 35 participants for the study.  The researcher used questionnaires to collect data after receiving authorization from the university. The questionnaires were administered by the researcher on contact with willing respondents. ResultsTypes of DisabilityDuring the study, the researcher wanted to find out the most prevalent types of impairments in the population. According to the study findings, autism was the most prevalent (37%) disorder in the population. Visual impairment also emerged as a common disability in children of the interviewed parents.Number of ChildrenThe researcher sought to find out the number of children in families where at least one child is born with a disability. Usually, having a child with disability can affect the willingness of parents to have another child. However, the number of children born in a particular can be subject to several factors including financial stability and level of education. Nearly half (49%) of the respondents had only two children. The number of parents with four children constituted of a minority (3%).Type of ImpairmentFurther, the researcher sought to find out the prevalence of certain impairments. According to the study findings autism was the most prevalent impairment among children.  Visual and physical impairments were also highly prevalent.   The researcher was interested in finding out the challenges that parents face while raising children with special needs. Several challenges were identified with different parents listing the number of challenges they had faced when caring for children with special needs. Majority of the parents had a challenge in dealing with the high dependence of children who have special needs. Other challenges such as depression and coping with the needs of special children were also highlighted as significant problems. A few parents had issues with balancing siblings and resentment. CorrelationBivariate analysis on the data was done to establish the statistical significant of the findings. A 2-tailed Pearson’s correlation at 0.01 level of significance was done to check for possible relationship between level of education, marital status, and partner bond before and after the birth of a child with special needs. Existence of a relationship between these variables of study implies that there is a level of dependence in the way the independent variables influence functionality of the marriage. From the results, the variables exhibited both positive and negative correlation. This indicates that some variables influence others negatively while others have positive influence on other variable. Positive correlation means that one variable leads to the improvement of the other. On the other hand, negative correlation implies that one variable leads to the decline or depreciation of the other.  

Pearson Correlation coefficient

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Level of Education

Marital Status

Partner bond before

Partner bond after

Level of Education

1

           -0.605

-0.073

0.336

Marital Status

-0.605

1

-0.003

-0.372

Partner bond Before

-0.073

-0.003

1

0.326

Partner bond After

0.336

-0.372

0.326

1

 DiscussionRaising a child with special needs is an experience that most parents are never prepared to undergo. Usually, couples anticipate for a health child which means that bearing a child with special needs may occur as a shock to most parents. As a result, raising a child with special needs can be a rather challenging experience for both parents hence affecting their bond and the functionality of the marriage. Children with special needs require more attention than normal children. Parents are required to make significant adjustments in the way they lead their lives in order to afford special children the care that they need. Besides, children with special needs require several visits to healthcare facilities to facilitate their wellbeing. A combination of these factors leads to an increase in the parental stressors which string the bond between parents. Interestingly, the data gathered during the study indicated that partners with higher education levels and those with stronger marital bond registered an improvement in their relationship. Usually, partners who share a strong bond tend to support each other during a time of difficulty. In addition, educated partners have a higher level of understanding which allows them to cope better than less educated partners.  Although the researcher observed a number of divorces and cases of separation, these incidents were not by any chance higher than those of normal marriages. As such improvements focusing on challenges associated with raising children with special needs should target the wellbeing of the children and less on the health of the marriage. Approximately 6% of the parents that they faced challenges in balancing siblings in the event that one child requires special care. This means that other children in the family are at a high risk of receiving less attention than they would if they were in a normal family. Usually, when parents suffer of face challenges in their parenting, children suffer more. For instance, when parents face heavy expenditure in medical treatment for a special child, the siblings are at a high risk of suffering too.as such, it is important that researchers investigate better coping methods to ensure parents of children with special needs experience less challenges. Future studies should focus on the implications of marital challenges on siblings and children with special needs. ConclusionSummary of FindingsThe major findings of the study were as below.·         From the study findings, autism is highly the most prevalent among children. Visual impairment was also a common disability in children of the interviewed parents. Children with autism require support in several areas including learning and coordinating their motor functions. On the other hand, children with visual impairment require special training that can be costly for a family that is not financially stable. ·         The number of children born to parents of children with special needs is not significantly different from that of ordinary parents. Parents of children with impairment are exposed to a number of factors that also affect regular families. The birth of a child with special needs seldom affects the number of children in a particular household.·         Parents of children with special needs face a number of challenges while bringing up their young ones.  Majority of the parents had challenges dealing with the high dependence of children who have special needs. On the other hand, some parents experienced depression and coping challenges. A few parents had issues balancing siblings and resentment.  ·         Challenges leads to an increase in the parental stressors, which strain the bond between parents. The existence of challenges does not necessarily weaken the bond between partners. In fact, the bond tends to grow stronger in some relationships.Relevance of the FindingsUsually, when people are addressing marital challenges, they focus on whether or not the marriage is healthy. The main predictor of unhealthy marriages is divorce or separation of married couples.  However, even when a marriage does not end up in a divorce, there are challenges that prevent married couples from enjoying their marriage. Usually, children suffer or are deprived certain essential things in life as parents strive to balance between working and supporting children with special needs. The findings of the study confirm that while there is no significant difference in the rate of divorce in families of children with special needs and normal families, parents of children with disability. Information gathered during the study will help policy makers design better incentives and programs for children with special needs as well as their parents. Besides, the information will enlighten members of the community about the struggle involved in raising children with special needs. When members of the community are well informed, they will provide more support and love for families of children with impairments.                References Algood, C. L., Harris, C., & Hong, J. S. (2013). Parenting success and challenges for families of children with disabilities: An ecological systems analysis. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 23(2), 126-136.Barnett, D., Clements, M., Kaplan-Estrin, M., & Fialka, J. (2003). Building new dreams: Supporting parents’ adaptation to their child with special needs. Infants & Young Children, 16(3), 184-200.Doron, H., & Sharabany, A. (2013). Marital patterns among parents to autistic children. Psychology, 4(04), 445.Sobsey, D. (2004). Marital Stability and Marital Satisfaction in Families of Children with Disabilities: Chicken or Egg?. Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, 32(1), 62-83.Tøssebro, J., & Wendelborg, C. (2017). Marriage, Separation and Beyond: A Longitudinal Study of Families of Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in a Norwegian Context. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 30(1), 121-132.  

 

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