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Keywords:

  • children;
  • cerebral palsy;
  • family ecology;
  • family environment;
  • family expectations;
  • family functioning;
  • family supports

Abstract

Background

Family ecology in early childhood may influence children's activity and participation in daily life. The aim of this study was to describe family functioning, family expectations of their children, family support to their children, and supports for families of young children with cerebral palsy (CP) based on children's gross motor function level.

Methods

Participants were 398 children with CP (mean age = 44.9 months) and their parents residing in the USA and Canada. Parents completed four measures of family ecology, the Family Environment Scale (FES), Family Expectations of Child (FEC), Family Support to Child (FSC) and Family Support Scale (FSS).

Results

The median scores on the FES indicated average to high family functioning and the median score on the FSS indicated that families had helpful family supports. On average, parents reported high expectations of their children on the FEC and strong support to their children on the FSC. On the FES, higher levels of achievement orientation were reported by parents of children in Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) level II than parents of children in level I, and higher levels of control were reported by parents of children in level I than parents of children in level IV. On the FEC, parents of children with limited gross motor function (level V) reported lower expectations than parents of children at all other levels.

Conclusions

Family ecology, including family strengths, expectations, interests, supports and resources, should be discussed when providing interventions and supports for young children with CP and their families.