A new study, published today by a leading Irish institute, has found that parents of children with disabilities tend to have lower expectations for their kids’ educational development than parents of children without disabilities.
Commissioned by the National Disability Authority, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report was carried out to measure the extent to which the educational outcomes of children with disabilities, which are poorer than their peers, are influenced by the expectations of their parents.
For the purposes of the study, the classification of ‘disability’ was split into the following four categories:
- general learning/intellectual disability;
- specific learning disability (including dyslexia or dyspraxia);
- socio-emotional or behavioural disability;
- physical disability (including disabilities affecting mobility, vision or hearing)
Using data from the Growing Up in Ireland study, researchers looked at three key factors: how far parents expected their kids to progress in full-time education, the extent to which they like school, and their self-concept.
At the end of the study, the major finding was that parental expectations for children with disabilities tend to be lower than those for children without disabilities, in the area of education.
While, in some cases, the parents’ expectations proved to be lower than expected based on the child’s actual academic achievements, the study report outlined four key factors that could influence these expectations:
- Academic development: Parents of kids who scored in the lowest 20% in reading and math tests were found to be more likely to have lower expectations for their child.
- Gender: Parents of girls were found to be more likely to expect their child to attain higher qualifications than those of boys.
- Parents’ own educational attainments: Parents with a Leaving Cert qualification (or lower) were found to be more likely to have lower expectations for their children in comparison to parents with a degree.
- Parent-child relationships: Parents who reported high levels of conflict with their child were found to have lower educational expectations.
Commenting on the findings in the report, experts suggested that providing both parents and children with the right support and information regarding their current education as well as future opportunities is crucial.
Author Dr Selina McCoy said: “Key to promoting equality of opportunity among young people with disabilities is providing their parents with additional support, including information and guidance that promotes education and employment as real options after school.”
You can read the report in full through this link.