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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Advisor

Jay W. Reeve

First Committee Member

Edward W. Pohlman

Second Committee Member

Fay Coleman

Third Committee Member

Harold S. Jacoby

Fourth Committee Member

Arthur H. Maynard


The general purpose of this study is to attempt to determine whether or not the presence of a severely mentally retarded child has deleterious effects upon the family. The hypothesis that a retarded child tends to have a disintegrating effect upon his parents’ marriage has frequently been stated, but there has been little systematic research concerning the relationship of severely retarded children and the marital interaction patterns of their parents.

A common belief in the area of mental retardation is that the presence of a retarded child in family has an adverse effect on the other siblings. This is one of the reasons most frequently given to parents for recommending institutionalization of a mentally retarded child; however, there is little empirical evidence in the literature that either sustantiaties or vitiates this supposition.

Those who advocate institutionalization of severely mentally retarded children often tend to believe that this process may strengthen the cohesiveness of the remaining family members and serve to diminish possible stress and strain within the family structure.

The investigator has therefore stated two hypotheses which will serve as the nucleus of this study and will be tested within a specified population. They are as follows: (1) The marital integration of parents who have kept their severely mentally retarded children at home tends to be lower than that of parents who have placed their severely retarded children in an institution.; and (2) The role tension of siblings between the ages of six and seventeen in families who have kept their retarded children at home tends to be higher than that of siblings of similar ages in families in which the retarded children have been placed in an institution

This study is based upon the general assumption that a knowledge of the reactions, attitudes, and problems of parents of mentally retarded children will enhance the understanding of those who come in contact with them. Counseling the parents and the siblings of the mentally retarded child is an integral part of almost all educational and therapeutic programs. It is hoped that information derived from this study may point the way toward better counseling techniques and possible rehabilitative measures for families of severely retarded children.



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