The Experience of South Asian Immigrant and Canadian Mothers of Children with a Developmental Disability: A Mixed Methods Study
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Purpose: To explore the similarities and differences between the experiences of South Asian immigrant and Canadian mothers raising a child with developmental disabilities using the Perry (2004) model. Research questions: 1) Is there a significant difference between the two groups on any of the impact (negative, positive), stressor (childs age, adaptive skills, maladaptive behaviours, financial burden, other life stressors), personal (self-efficacy, mental health problems, coping) and family resource (family hardiness, marital satisfaction), or social support variables? 2) Are there different predictors of negative (e.g., stress) and positive impact (positive changes in mother) in the two groups? 3) How do mothers articulate their experiences and does their interview data support these findings? Method: I used a correlational embedded mixed method design. Quantitative questionnaire data completed by 56 Canadian (CA) and 51 South Asian immigrant (SA) mothers was the primary and semi-structured interview data from a sub sample was a secondary source of data. SA mothers were from five countries, spoke 11 languages, and immigrated an average of 13.5 years ago. Results: Children of CA mothers had significantly more adaptive skills according to a parent report measure. SA mothers reported experiencing significantly higher levels of negative and positive impact, more severe levels of mental health issues, more frequent use of positive coping skills, and greater helpfulness of social supports. Childs adaptive skills and maladaptive behaviour predicted negative impact in CA and SA mothers. In CA mothers, their mental health issues also predicted higher levels of negative impact. Positive impact was predicted by positive coping and family hardiness in CA mothers, and by mental health problems and positive coping in SA mothers. Overall, results show a mostly similar experience in both groups. However, interview data from SA mothers revealed a mix of medical and traditional explanation of disability, prevalence of social stigma about disability, influence of immigration, value of family, and religion as a coping mechanism. This is the first study to make a comparison between the experiences of South Asian immigrant and Canadian mothers who have a child with disability in Ontario. It has several important implications for culturally sensitive service provision.