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Infants & Young Children:
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Building New Dreams: Supporting Parents' Adaptation to Their Child With Special Needs

Barnett, Douglas PhD; Clements, Melissa PhD; Kaplan‐Estrin, Melissa PhD; Fialka, Janice MSW, ACSW

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Abstract

Raising a child with a congenital anomaly or other chronic medical problem challenges families. Although most families are resilient, depending on families' relative balance of strengths and vulnerabilities, chronic child health conditions can contribute to problems with parenting and family relationships. We believe interventions can broadly promote family well‐being by focusing on parental emotional, cognitive, and behavioral adaptation to their child's condition. Parents' adaptation to their child's diagnosis has been found to predict both family well‐being and their child's attachment security. After reviewing these and other relevant findings on families with children with chronic medical conditions, the second half of this article describes a parent group intervention designed to promote adaptation among such families. The rationale, goals, and guidelines of this 8‐session intervention are provided. Considerations and unanswered questions about implementing the intervention are also discussed.

©2003Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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