Fathering a child with a disability: what helps, hinders and supports fathers in their important role in the family?

Helen Bourke-Taylor, Claire Cotter, Kahli Joyce, Ted Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractOtherpeer-review


Introduction:Across Australia, early intervention services and other services forschool aged children with a disability are described as Family Centred. The family isrecognised as the primary source of support and the centre of the child’s enablement.There are many factors that influence families—finances, resources, time, family con-stellation, the quality and availability of appropriate therapy and medical services,the health and wellbeing of parents and the relationship between parents themselvesand others. Fathers are a crucial support to families affected by childhood disability,but little is known about their needs and preferences for support.Objectives:To describe father’s perspective, subjective health and wellbeing, opinionsand experiences of fathering, working and interacting with the community.Methods:Anonymous cross sectional survey was used to explore self-reportedmental health, participation in healthy activities, and impact on work and communityparticipation. The study was advertised Australia wide over one year with multipleavenues pursued to recruit fathers, including recruiting mothers to recruit partners,recruiting fathers to+recruit fathers and advertising through services, therapists, spe-cialised schools and disability support organisations.Results:Low uptake by fathers was a feature of this project. The sample includedN=38 fathers of children ranging from 4 through 30 years of age. Fathers reportedhigher stress and depressive symptoms compared to other Australians and describedthe impact on overall parental participation in paid work and leisure activities.Conclusions:Fathers face substantial pressures including career and earning capacitydue to the cost of raising a child with a disability and the mothers’ inability to workto capacity, secondary to caring responsibilities. The information obtained from thisresearch project will be useful to advise future larger studies that seek to engagefathers of children and young people with a disability
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-36
Number of pages1
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2019
EventOccupational Therapy Australia National Conference and Exhibition 2019: Together Towards Tomorrow - International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 10 Jul 201912 Jul 2019
Conference number: 28th


  • father-child relationship
  • Disability
  • pediatrics

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