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Title page for ETD etd-07242008-203855

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Ulman, Teresa Frances
Author's Email Address teresa.ulman@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-07242008-203855
Title Positive psychological growth in mothers of children with a developmental disability and its correlates with child and maternal characteristics
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Elisabeth Dykens Committee Chair
Bruce Compas Committee Member
Evon Batey Lee Committee Member
Robert Hodapp Committee Member
  • double abcx
  • ptgi
  • posttraumatic growth
  • angelman syndrome
  • prader-willi syndrome
  • down syndrome
  • autism
Date of Defense 2008-07-23
Availability unrestricted
Research on maternal adjustment following the addition of a child with a developmental disability has been greatly influenced by the Double ABCX model. A near constant across all previous studies using the Double ABCX model has been the definition of maternal adjustment as a negative outcome, such as depressive symptoms in mothers. The purpose of the current study was to use features of the Double ABCX model to investigate positive psychological changes in mothers. Specifically, significant relationships between positive growth and variables related to child characteristics and maternal resources were investigated.

Positive outcomes were measured via maternal self-reports of growth using the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI). By combining methodology used to learn about parents of a child with a developmental disability with methodology used to investigate posttraumatic growth, the current study contributes to both fields of research. Investigating PTG in mothers of children with developmental disabilities provides a unique opportunity to identify how PTG differs in populations that experience an ongoing rather than an acute stressor. The study also contributes uniquely to research on maternal adaption to raising a child with a developmental disability by documenting positive growth in these mothers. Furthermore, this study has identified features of caring for a child with a developmental disability, and types of maternal internal and external resources, that are associated with increased growth. Findings have implications for how to best support mothers as they adapt to the demands of their child in order to maximize the potential for growth.

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