Theoretical Model for Conceptualizing Cross-Cultural Applications and Intervention Strategies for Parents of Children With Disabilities


Lorraine Wilgosh, PhD, Department of Educational Psychology, 6-102 Education North, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G5, Canada. E-mail:


Abstract  Theoretical models should provide a framework to facilitate parents’ developing effective life management strategies. This paper provides a brief overview of the research on parent effective life management and cross-cultural issues for families with a child who has disabilities. The authors note that the ability of image-making, meaning-making, and choice-making to facilitate outcome is clearly substantiated by research in the stress and coping literature. Using the parent transformational process model, the authors examined responses from 18 multicultural families to demonstrate how this model may go beyond description of relevant cross-cultural family variables in making sense of research findings and conceptualizing meaningful, and appropriate intervention strategies for families of children with disabilities. The authors conclude that rather than a linear process, it is quite likely that the critical questions that parents deal with at the diagnosis of their child reappear at other child and family markers, requiring a reworking of images and meanings and provision of a new range of choices. Professionals should be aware that parental adjustments to disability are not always linear, and thus use this awareness to not judge parents and to serve as catalysts for continued positive life management and transformation throughout the family life cycle.