Attitudes towards parents with learning disabilities : the development of a reliable and valid measure and investigation of potential correlates
Little research has examined the nature of attitudes towards parents with
learning disabilities directly. The 'Parenting Interactional Model' (Feldman,
2002) proposes a link between social factors, such as discrimination and
stigmatisation, the extent and nature of social support and parental well-being
of those with learning disabilities.
This study involved the investigation of the psychometric properties of a
scale designed to measure attitudes towards parenting by those with learning
disabilities (ATPLD). It also examined the potential relationship between a
variety of demographic variables and experiences of contact with people with
learning disabilities and responses on this scale. The ATDP-R (Slevin and
Sines, 1996) was used as a comparison to measure general attitudes towards
those with learning disabilities. A number of 'open questions' asked
participants opinions about the problems faced by parents with learning
disabilities and asked them to attribute causes for these.
278 participants completed the measures in the study and were grouped
according to four categories, specialist learning disability staff, general
health-care staff, students on health-related courses and lay people.
The ATPLD demonstrated a good level of internal reliability, test-retest
reliability and concurrent validity with the ATDP-R. However, it appeared to
be measuring a construct labelled 'willingness to accept whether people with
learning disabilities should have babies' rather than 'attitudes towards
parenting by people with learning disabilities'.
Women and specialist learning disability staff scored significantly more
positively than men, lay people and general health-care staff on both attitude
scales. The ATPLD was significantly correlated with measures of overall
contact, contact in a work setting and contact with parents with learning
disabilities, but not contact in a social setting.