“The little dance”: how mother and daughter with a disability negotiate a vision for the daughter's future
Erspamer, Brett Kathleen
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In this case study, we explored how an adolescent with social-emotional and cognitive disabilities and her parent came to a shared understanding of transition goals and a vision for the future. We interviewed a 20 year-old woman with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and anxiety and her mother separately about their hopes and how they discussed the future. Directive content analysis was used to identify themes and subthemes from the interviews. The findings indicated that the mother’s and daughter’s hopes for the future differed slightly, with the daughter’s hopes being more ambitious, narrow and concrete, while the mother had a more fluid and abstract vision. We found that the mother used a person-centered approach in speaking with her daughter about the future by having a good understanding of her daughter’s hopes, following her daughter’s lead, and sharing control over decision-making. They discussed the future in small naturally occurring increments. The mother constantly evaluated when to push her daughter, when to step back, and when to gently make suggestions about the future. She also tried to balance her hopes for her daughter’s future independence with the reality of keeping her daughter safe. Implications include the need for communication between student, parent, and school personnel, and for supporting person-centered transition planning.