Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Thomas Mohr


Family Characteristics; Pediatrics -- methods


The family unit in America is becoming extremely diverse in its composition, perceptions, and capabilities. It is this diversity which challenges professionals to perceive and interact with each family as an unique entity. Most importantly, though, is the influence of family dynamics on the outcomes of therapeutic interventions for children with disabilities. Since the passage of Public Law 99-457, the focus of intervention has moved from treatment of the individual child to services involving the family as a single functioning unit. . Services are then provided to the child and family, as the family needs influence the child's growth and development.

The purpose of this study is to address the issues facing families with children who have special needs. Specific questions to be addressed include:

1.) What characteristics of families promote intervention?

2.) What are the "stressors" that influence family involvement with intervention?

3.) What is beneficial for therapists to know to be effective in servicing families?

The procedure used for this study will be a literature review comprised of information on the structure and characteristics in today's society of "new" families. Also, a brief summary will identify the effects of culture and stress on several coping mechanisms. Finally, specific approaches, suggested by both professionals and parents, are incorporated for therapists to use in developing partnerships with families, which will enable the intervention team to work toward the best quality of care for a child with special needs. The results gathered form this independent study will add to the knowledge of pediatric therapists on how to better communicate and function as a team member within each individual family system.