Title: Intertwining to Fit In: A grounded theory study of caregivers with school-aged children with FASD
Scarfe Room 271 (Library Block)
Dr. Wendy Hall (Nursing), Research Co-Supervisor
Dr. William McKee (SCPS), Research Co-Supervisor
Dr. Laurie Ford (SCPS), Committee Member
Dr. Sterett Mercer (SCPS), Departmental Examiner
The purpose of this study was to explain how caregivers of school-aged children with FASD manage their children’s schooling. Symbolic interactionism and core tenets from Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological theory served as the underlying theoretical perspectives. I used a Glaserian approach to the grounded theory method to develop a substantive theory, namely, intertwining to fit in.
Data in this investigation were collected through interviews, participant observation, and document analysis. I completed 30 in-depth interviews with caregiver participants between February 2009 and November 2009, based on theoretical sampling. Twenty five hours of participant observation occurred in participants’ homes and other contexts. I used constant comparative analysis to construct the core category, "intertwining to fit in.” Intertwining to fit in is, a dynamic cycle that explains how caregivers of elementary school-aged children with FASD continuously try to resolve their main concerns, which are preventing their children from failing academically and in social interactions and preventing themselves from being regarded as “bad” parents.
To intertwine to fit in parents used two main strategies, orchestrating schooling and keeping up appearances, at the same time as they were regulating the relationships with their children. Caregivers used the strategies and their related tactics to try to achieve academic and social success for their children and to be regarded as “good” parents themselves. Being successful at using the strategies reduced the amount of time parents spent regulating their relationships with their children. Conditions caregivers encountered influenced throttling up or throttling down of strategies and tactics. Using the strategies could lead caregivers to encounter two critical junctures: hitting rock bottom and islands of calm. Hitting rock bottom occurred when caregivers felt none of their tactics were working and they were spending all of their time regulating their relationships with their children. Reaching islands of calm occurred when strategies and tactics were successful and parents could allow children to be more independent. During either of the critical junctures, caregivers would use tactics to re-engage with the school system. Short-term outcomes associated with critical junctures contributed to or detracted from the long-term outcomes caregivers were trying to achieve through intertwining to fit in.
“Intertwining to fit in,” contributes to the attachment literature and literature on secondary disabilities and extends the literature documenting caregivers’ efforts to advocate for their children. Intertwining to fit in has implications for school psychology practice, training, and research, as well as teachers and key workers. The theory is important for those engaged in the behaviour under study, the caregivers of school-aged children with FASD.