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Understanding Family Systems in Promoting and Supporting Transition Planning. Mary E. Morningstar, Ph.D. June 2, 2006 Louisiana Transition Summit mmorningstar@ku.edu http://www.transitioncoalition.org. The Family as a Mobile .

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Understanding Family Systems in Promoting and Supporting Transition Planning


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    1. Understanding Family Systems in Promoting and Supporting Transition Planning Mary E. Morningstar, Ph.D. June 2, 2006 Louisiana Transition Summit mmorningstar@ku.edu http://www.transitioncoalition.org

    2. The Family as a Mobile In a mobile, all the pieces, no matter what the size or shape, can be grouped together and balanced by shortening or lengthening the strings attached, or rearranging the distance between pieces. So it is with a family. None of the family members is identical to any other; they are all different and at different levels of growth. As in a mobile, you can’t arrange one without thinking of the other. From: Viginia.Satir, (1972). Peoplemaking. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books.

    3. Family Systems Framework INPUTS • Family Characteristics • Description of the family • Personal characteristics • Special challenges • Family Life Cycle • Stages and Transitions • Changes in • Characteristics • Changes in Functions • Changes in Life Roles Cohesion Adaptability Extended Family Marital Family Interaction PROCESS Siblings Parent-child Family Functions Affection, Self-esteem, Economics, Daily care, Socialization, Recreation, Education, Spiritual OUTPUTS Adapted from: Turnbull, A.P. & Turnbull, H.R. (2001). Families, professionals, and exceptionality: Collaborating for empowerment (4th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice-Hall.

    4. Family Characteristics: What is Your Definition of a Family? • 3 Dimensions of Family Characteristics • Descriptors of the family • Personal Characteristics of members • Special Challenges • Changing Characteristics of Families • Changing Composition • Changing Employment Patterns • Greater Ethnic and Cultural Diversity

    5. Changing Characteristics of Families: What does it mean for us? • What are our current expectations for families to be engaged in transition? • Can we expect single-parent families working full-time to be equal partners in transition? • Do we need to rethink meetings? • Does the changing composition of families impact our assumptions about postschool outcomes?

    6. Family Interactions Adaptability Cohesion Cohesion =boundaries of family members Adaptability = how well the family copes under stress. Extended Family Marital Siblings Parent-child

    7. Role of Siblings in Transition • Provide first experiences in peer relationships • Support inclusion in neighborhood, school, & community • Adult siblings often take increasing role in care or coordination of services • Role siblings will take often depends upon family expectations & relationships • Advantageous for transition professionals to have a sense of sibling relationships & support involvement as desired by family

    8. Thought Questions about Siblings…. • What is the potential role of siblings in the families you read about? • In which situations would it be positive? Which ones would be negative? • Do you think it is appropriate to have brothers and sisters (younger and older) involved in educational planning and implementation? At what age? • What strategies might enhance positive interactions and involvement of siblings in transition planning?

    9. Family Functions • Economic • Daily care • Recreation • Socialization • Self-esteem • Affection • Education • Spiritual functions

    10. Family Life Cycle Developmental Unexpected

    11. Emergent Adult Role • Assumptions in society • What is reality for families with adolescents with disabilities? • Stressor for families: uncertain of status & capabilities of adolescent with disabilities • Typical experiences for teenagers often missed with adolescent with disabilities • Cultural issues: adulthood  independence • Obstacles families face in self-determination • Strategies for supporting self-determination

    12. Thought Questions… Emergent Adult Roles • Do your students participate in any emergent adult roles? • How do you think families feel about promoting self-determination or more adult roles for their sons or daughters? • Are there strategies you can think of to assist your families in overcoming obstacles to supporting adult roles? • Is it possible to promote self-determination within family-centered and culturally appropriate ways?

    13. Family Issues… • Professional perceptions of families • Past negative experiences • Limited and conflicting experiences • Lack of opportunities • Lack of knowledge, authority, power • Stress during transition … and Dilemmas • Independence vs. Avoiding risk • Less involvement vs. More involvement • Stability vs. Disruptions • Doing for vs. Teaching • Maximize potential vs. Accept as is

    14. Why Should Families Be Involved? • For Students in General: • Higher achievement • Positive attitudes and behavior • Higher graduation rates • Greater enrollment in postsecondary ed • Students with Disabilities: • Quality transition plans • Higher rates of postschool outcomes • Student preferences

    15. Strategies to Support Families in Transition • Encourage Early Expectations • Help Parents to Recognize the Importance of their Contributions • Support Parents to Honor Choices of their Child • Increase Role of Social Support Network • Address Parent Concerns Regarding Future

    16. Why Focus on Culturally Diverse Families? • Participation is lower due to: unfamiliarity with US practices, different perspectives level of involvement need, cultural unresponsiveness of the system (Al-Hassan & Gardner, 2002) • Professionals operating under assumptions inherent in special education and practice. (Rao, 2001) • Insensitivity toward the family’s culture – during transition, this is particularly true – parents report transition services are unresponsiveness and even hurtful (deFur, et al., 2001). • Culturally diverse families are less involved in school-based activities; passive participation may in fact lead to poor postschool outcomes (Greene et al., date)

    17. Definition of Disability Knowledge & Expertise Goal Setting Parenting Communication Cultural Base for Special Education SPED

    18. Continua of Cultural Beliefs • Are there cultural characteristics that are similar across the three families? • Do you have a cultural “cluster” more similar to one of the families? What implications does this have for the quality of your interactions with each family? • Do you think having a comfortable and trusting relationship with your focus family would have an impact on working with Donny in accomplishing transition outcomes? • Can you think of “probes” for more information you would need to gather from the family to have a more complete cultural understanding of their priorities?

    19. Steps to Cultural Reciprocity Kalyanpur & Harry 1999 Step 1: Identify the cultural values embedded in the professional interpretation of a student's disability and special services Step 2: Find out whether the family recognizes and values these assumptions, and if not, how their view differs from yours Step 3: Acknowledge and give explicit respect to any cultural differences and fully explain the cultural basis of the professional assumption Step 4: Through discussion and collaboration, set about determining the most effective way of adapting professional interpretation and services to the family's value system Know Your Own World View Learn about the Families & Their Communities Acknowledge & Respect Cultural Differences Reach Mutual Goals

    20. Strategies to Enhance Cultural Competence • Outcomes = self-esteem, interdependence, inclusion • Familism = consider other family members • Culturally responsive transition information • Improve cultural competence of transition team • Cultural role models • Increase capacity of community networks

    21. Tips for Enhancing Cultural Competence • Get to know the family and their cultural community • Use cultural mediators or liaisons to community • Learn to use words and forms of greetings in the family’s language. • Recognize that families may be surprised by the extent of parent-professional interactions expected in the United States • Initiate personal interactions not just written information. Have all materials translated • Ask parents how they would like to communicate • Call to discuss or talk about child’s progress • Keep parents informed about upcoming IEP meetings, transition meetings, and ways in which they could provide input • Create a welcoming environment • Provide varied opportunities for family involvement and respect the level of involvement families feel comfortable

    22. Share information and resources • Use multiple formats & ways to provide information • Ensure reciprocity • Informal and frequent communication • Arrange linkages with other families and available supports • Coming Together for the IEP • Prepare in advance • Connecting and getting started • Sharing visions and transition outcomes • Reviewing levels of performance & assessments • Sharing resources, priorities, concerns • Developing goals and objectives • Specifying placement and related services • Summarizing and concluding • Types of adult services • Role models • Basic facts about transition • Areas most wanted by families in one study: • sexuality • self-care • getting along with others • taking responsibility • Guardianship and estate planning • Role of IEP team members • Criteria for evaluating IEP • Postschool option • Social security • Listen empathetically • Share information • Communicate family meaning • Focus on family identified issues • Reliably respond • Meet in friendly places • Tell personal stories Michael Bridges’ Transition Cycle Theory Building Relationships with Families • Identify transition cycle of the family • Learn to LISTEN • INVITE Involvement • Pay attention to family concerns & postschool outcomes • Exchange information • Increase family support