Date of Conferral

1-1-2010

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Lorraine Cleeton

Abstract

Of the 6.6 million children in the United States who were deemed in 2008 to have a disability that required special instruction, over 39% were classified as specific learning disabled (SLD). This figure translates into a high number of people who are parenting a child identified as having a SLD. Bronfenbrenner's theory of the ecology of human development indicated the importance of interconnections between school, home, and community settings. Collaboration between teachers and families may be strengthened by utilizing knowledge gained from parents' lived experiences of parenting an adolescent identified as having a SLD. The primary research question guiding this phenomenological study involved understanding the experiences of parents with adolescents identified as having a SLD. Data from in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 12 parents were collected and analyzed by employing the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method. The analysis revealed that the recognition and the acceptance of a child's otherness permeated the parent experience of SLD while four other interconnected contexts emerged concerning parents' lived experiences with: (a) their identified child, (b) other family members, (c) teachers and staff, and (d) other members of an individual education planning team. The study found that parents adopted roles such as caretaker, cheerleader, legal analyst, and child advocate in order to obtain the educational services they deemed appropriate for their child. This study gave voice to parents of adolescents who struggle academically. The findings promote social change by informing and encouraging educators to support and promote collaboration with parents of adolescents identified as having a SLD, potentially enabling those students to receive better educational services.