Abstract

A longitudinal study of self-esteem in 22 adolescents with cerebral palsy is reported. The subjects were matched with nondisabled adolescents by age, sex, IQ, and school. Seven years later, 39 of the 44 subjects (mean age = 22.8 years) completed the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (Roid & Fitts, 1988), the Social Support Inventory (McCubbin, Patterson, Rossman, & Cooke, 1982), and a demographic questionnaire with some open-ended questions. As adolescents, the girls with cerebral palsy scored significantly lower than the other groups on physical, social, and personal self-esteem; however, as adults, these subjects were no longer significantly different from the other groups. Male subjects with cerebral palsy had self-esteem scores similar to those of the nondisabled groups in both adolescence and adulthood. Demographic information is summarized. The factors that the subjects identified as leading to changes in self-esteem were relationships and experiences. The low self-esteem scores indicate that psychosocial occupational therapy intervention with adolescent girls with cerebral palsy and with some adults with cerebral palsy would be appropriate.

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