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Shifting Pictures in a Kaleidoscopic World: Concerns of Parents of Preschool Children with Disabilities

Parker, Susan Wuchenich (2008) Shifting Pictures in a Kaleidoscopic World: Concerns of Parents of Preschool Children with Disabilities. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The intent of this dissertation was to move toward a constructive grounded theory that portrayed the ways in which parents of preschool children with disabilities make meaning of their children's social relationships. The rationale for this inquiry emerged from the confluence of four complex discourses: typical child development discourses with particular attention paid to the importance of social development; family discourses with particular attention paid to the role of the family in a child's social development; disability discourses with particular attention paid to the unique challenges families face in supporting the social development of their children with disabilities; and early childhood special education discourses related to family-centered approaches to educational intervention. Narrative vignettes were used to present the ground of the study. These vignettes were generated from conversational interviews with parents of preschool children with disabilities. Emerging meanings were constructed using a number of conventions of grounded theory analysis and include four conceptual categories: choosing your own reality, holding onto hope, striving to make connections, and struggling for recognition. Additionally, the core concept of living with "shifting pictures" in a kaleidoscopic world is discussed. This kaleidoscope metaphor is utilized as parents seem to struggle to find a place of belonging for their children represented by symmetry, while simultaneously struggling to avoid social isolation represented by asymmetry. However, as the research process moved toward culmination a variety of issues began to surface including a narrative shift from the more specific understanding of social relationships to an understanding of the myriad of concerns families face when parenting a preschool child with a disability. These concerns are discussed along with a critique of my use of interpretative grounded theory methods. Implications for practice include the reframing of normal, and the use of empathetic witnessing and reflection as core concepts of early intervention pre-service training and practice. Possible directions for future study may be the effects of HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) on the social relationships of children with disabilities, and an exploration of what sense of belonging parents may or may not have for their children with disabilities.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Parker, Susan
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGarman, Noreenngarman@pitt.eduNGARMAN
Committee CoChairKacmzarek, Louisekaczmk@pitt.eduKACZMK
Committee MemberTrovato, Charlenetrovato@pitt.eduTROVATO
Committee MemberPiantanida, Mariamariap@pitt.eduMARIAP
Committee MemberZigmond, Naominaomi@pitt.eduNAOMI
Committee MemberGrubs, Robin Ergrubs@pitt.eduRGRUBS
Date: 30 June 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 9 January 2008
Approval Date: 30 June 2008
Submission Date: 4 April 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: children with disabilities; constructive grounded theory; early intervention; Parental concerns; preschool
Other ID:, etd-04042008-180021
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:38


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