Thomas Ndame


This study assesses, in a comparatively perspective, how some families adapt to daily routines of the developmental needs of their children with multiple disabilities in order to enhance their wellbeing and learning. The study sampled (N=20) parents from 10 families in Cameroon and Sweden using the mixed method approach to data collection and analysis. Findings reveal commonalities in family adaptation to their children’s health condition through: sacrificing extra time; rescheduling working hours; adjusting income, expenditure and plans; exploiting the available social support resources to meet the children’s special developmental needs. In addition, since parents perceive multiple disabilities as a critical health condition, they maximize the scope of support activities to enhance child development. In distinction, Cameroonian nucleus families are structurally larger in size than Swedish. Functionally, the former is dependent upon and interacts with extended family members while the latter makes use of outsiders ranging from professionals to pets for support services. In child functioning, children in the standardized monolingual society of Sweden change key communication partners indiscriminately whereas those in the multilingual society of Cameroon permanently cling to one or few partner(s) influential in enhancing their development. In conclusion, the study recommended that parents should be given more professional help and voice in policy making regarding the support of their children with multiple disabilities.

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family adaptation, multiple disabilities, developmental needs, social support network, communication partners

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