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Family Support Research

Recently a group of family support researchers reviewed twenty years of literature to report about the state of research and overall findings on family support. Kyzar, Turnbull, Summers & Gómez, (2012) reviewed quantitative studies published between 1990 and 2010 to discuss how family support is conceptualized across research studies (and how the definition can be sharpened), how families can benefit from family support, and to what extent do families benefit.

The authors argue that during the last 10 years, an ecological perspective of disability has gradually replaced the deficit-within-the-person model. The ecological perspective examines the match between a person’s individual capacity and environmental demands; and introduces supports where functioning is compromised. A corollary of the support paradigm is the importance of the family as a primary means of support, and the impact of disability on the family. This recognition of the role of the family is fixed in federal policy as part of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) which includes the family support goals of enabling families to nurture and enjoy their children at home, and preserving, strengthening, and maintaining the family. The Act further authorizes family support activities: access to childcare services, respite care, training and leadership, self-advocacy, and self-determination.

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