People from ethnic minorities in the UK are likely to face inequalities, discrimination and disadvantage. From the late 1990s, studies began to document examples of racist attitudes being shown towards South Asian children with learning disabilities, There were also suggestions that South Asian parents received later diagnosis of learning disability in their child, with the suggestion that this may be because their concerns about their child’s development were not being taken seriously
The researchers in the current study were looking at the cultural context of care-giving amongst South Asian communities caring for a child with learning disabilities in the UK.
They worked with a number of focus groups of parents from Sikh and Muslim support groups. Their children were all receiving support from learning disability services.
They analysed the transcripts of the focus groups using interpretative phenomenological analysis, a qualitative technique used to offer insights into how people make sense of a given phenomenon, usually one relating to a significant major life event or important relationship. They hoped to develop a culturally sensitive account of Sikh and Muslim parents’ experiences of caring for a child with learning disabilities.
They found three major themes from the analysis:
- Making sense of the disability
- Feeling let down by services
- Looking to the future
The authors suggest that these findings reinforce those from previous studies, especially the difficulties making sense of the disabilities and problematic interactions with services.
The authors make a number of recommendations for developing culturally sensitive support for ethnic minority groups including the need to be aware of intra-group variations in interpretations and responses of South Asian parents. The recommendations are likely to be significant in the future given the expected increase in multi-ethnic populations.
The cultural context of care-giving: qualitative accounts from South Asian parents who care for a child with intellectual disabilities in the UK, Heer K et al., in Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 6, 4, 179 -191