Investigating the ‘Lived’ Experiences of Primary Caregivers of Children with Intellectual Disabilities Accessing Specialist Early Intervention Services: A Phenomenological Study.

Author(s): Sinéad Foran

Department: Little Angels Day Centre

(30 Jul 2008)

The aim of this phenomenological study is to investigate the ‘lived’ experiences of primary caregivers of children with intellectual disabilities who access specialist early intervention (EI) services in Ireland. Using purposive sampling with inclusion criteria, seven participants were chosen for the research study. In depth interviews using an interview guide were chosen to collect the data. Data analysis was conducted using Van Manen’s (1990) framework of analysis. The findings are presented in narrative form and are supported with exemplars from the interview transcriptions. Five themes and thirteen sub-themes emerged from the data analysis and are in turn discussed. The five themes are: The Pathway to Early Intervention, Trusting Others, Making Connections, A Juggling Act, The Unknown Journey. The findings suggest that accessing specialist EI services is a journey fraught with questions and challenges for caregivers. Despite broad satisfaction with specialist EI services, some inconsistencies remain in ongoing subjective experiences. The findings are discussed with reference to previous literature in the subject area. Strengths and limitations of the study are presented. Recommendations for clinical practice, policy and future research are discussed.

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