Parental Reaction to the Special Education IEP Process: Looking Through the Lens of Grief

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The International Journal for Improving Schools

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Parental grief reactions have typically been examined in situations where parents have a child diagnosed with a major medical or mental health condition. This study used the grief and loss model as conceptualized by Kubler-Ross (1969), Lamb (1988), and Kubler-Ross and Kessler (2005) as a foundation in examining parental reactions when a child has been referred for special education services. The model was expanded to include definitions of the concepts as applied to a special education setting and incorporated additional stages. Findings suggested almost half of the sample had reactions typically associated with the initial stage of grief, which encompasses feelings of denial, shock, and anger. Implications for school-based personnel are provided.