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Am J Ment Retard. 2001 May;106(3):265-86.

Life course impacts of parenting a child with a disability.

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  • 1Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 53705, USA.


We contrasted parents who had a child with a developmental disability, a serious mental health problem, and a normative comparison group with respect to parental attainment and well-being at mid-life. Data are from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, collected when the respondents were 18, 36, and 53 or 54, on average. Although similar at age 18, group patterns of attainment and well-being diverged thereafter. Parents of a child with a developmental disability had lower rates of employment, larger families, and lower rates of social participation but were similar to parents without a child with a disability in educational and marital status, physical health, and psychological well-being. Parents whose child had a serious mental health problem had normative patterns of educational and occupational attainment and marriage, but elevated levels of physical symptoms, depression, and alcohol symptoms at mid-life.

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