Experiences of Children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and their Families in General Education Classrooms

Title: Experiences of Children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and their Families in General Education Classrooms
Authors: Gordon, Maria
Date: 2013
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate how children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and their families perceived their school experiences in Québec. IBD is one of many “invisible” chronic diseases. It is considered invisible because it occurs internally without significant observable external symptoms. However, children with IBD experience painful and fluctuating physical symptoms caused by intestinal inflammation, as well as the side effects from medications. As a result, they require special accommodations while they attend public or private school. The Québec Education Act (2010) stipulates that adequate services for a diverse student population must be provided. Consequently, the research sought to answer the following questions: What are the experiences of parents and children with IBD enrolled in general education classrooms? And, what are the experiences of their brother or sister? To research these questions, a case study method was used with five families. The two instruments used to collect the data were, (1) individual semi-structured interviews that followed a modified version of Seidman’s (2006) in-depth interviewing approach and (2) drawings of the family by siblings. The data were analyzed inductively. This study was the first to use a qualitative approach with multiple methods that were guided by Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory (1979) and Turnbull and Turnbull’s family systems theory (2001). The findings revealed that, unlike many studies on families of children with special needs, these families with a child with IBD functioned relatively well. At the microsystem level, mothers assumed responsibility as the primary caregiver. Siblings experienced their own challenges, such as feelings of parental neglect. Nonetheless, they also maintained nurturing roles. Within the mesosystem level, the home and school relationship was impacted. Parents and children with IBD experienced school personnel who lacked awareness of IBD and provided insufficient classroom support, especially at public schools. Hence, parents-(predominantly mothers) played an integral role in advocating for necessary accommodations on their child’s behalf. In contrast to many studies on children with disabilities, children with IBD in this research had many friends in and outside of school. In the exosystem, parents struggled with feelings of guilt at having to balance employment and the high financial expense of caring for a child with IBD. They relied on assistance from government services and their IBD association. At the macrosystem level, family members believed that children with IBD were perceived negatively by society because of the lack of public awareness and the stigma that surrounds the topic of incontinence. This study makes contributions to systems theories and provides practical recommendations to school personnel and parents.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/23759
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -