OBJECTIVE. A national survey was conducted to identify occupational therapists’ current attitudes and values in their working relationships with parents of preschool children with developmental disabilities. This study replicated a 1987 national survey that examined therapists’ relationships with parents of preschool children with cerebral palsy.
METHOD. Surveys were sent to a random sample of 400 therapists, with 199 returned from respondents who identified themselves as working with preschool children with developmental disabilities. After calculating descriptive statistics for each item in the survey, a one-way analysis of variance was performed to test for differences based on four demographic variables.
RESULTS. Respondents reported that working with parents, more than any other aspect of intervention, had the greatest impact on the progress of a child with disabilities. Consistent with the 1987 survey, respondents believed that parents focus on their own adjustment to their child’s disability as well as on their child’s progress more than any other issues. Therapists continue to report satisfaction when generating positive change for child and parent through education and use of clinical knowledge and skill.
CONCLUSION. Results suggest that efforts to foster family-centered intervention in occupational therapy educational programs are increasing therapists’ confidence and skills in working with parents of children with disabilities. Implications for occupational therapy practice and education include a need for therapists to expand their knowledge and expertise in working effectively with vulnerable families. Educators need to focus on teaching strategies not only to refine the role of occupational therapy as a direct treatment provider, but also to incorporate creative ways to deal with the psychosocial issues of parents and families.