Date of Conferral
Dr. Kathyrne Mueller
Although all families in the United States experience stress, families of children with special needs frequently experience prolonged periods of stress. Prolonged exposure to stressful circumstances increases their vulnerability to financial, physical, and social strain. With the continuing increase in the prevalence of children who have special needs, it is vital to examine the efficacy of different educational approaches on parental stress. It is unclear whether there are differences in stress levels for families of homeschooled versus public-schooled children with special needs. Using the family adjustment and adaptation response model, the purpose of this quantitative, ex post facto study was to investigate the degree to which parental stress reported by parents of a school-aged child with special needs could be predicted by school approach and severity of learning disability. Seventy parents of children participating in either public special education or homeschooling completed self-administered questionnaires, including the Family Impact of Childhood Disability Scale, the Educational Stress Survey, the Cognitive Processing Inventory, and demographic questions. Results from the descriptive analysis and multiple regression analyses indicated that the severity of the learning disability significantly predicted both overall parental stress as well as stress contributed by schooling. However, the type of special education setting did not significantly predict parental stress. The results from this study can promote positive social change by increasing parental awareness so that parents can make informed decisions about schooling for their children with special needs. It can also provide
valuable information about additional stress related to special education programming services based on the severity of the child's learning disability.