Parents with Intellectual Disabilities

Implications and Interventions
  • Maurice A. Feldman
Part of the Issues in Clinical Child Psychology book series (ICCP)


One group of parents singled out more than any other for being at risk for child mal treatment are parents with intellectual disabilities. This chapter summarizes the results of our 15 years of research and clinical practice with these families. We describe (1) the parents, (2) the impact on children raised by parents with intellectual disabilities, and (3) a home-based parent education program designed to increase parenting skills and decrease the risk of child neglect and developmental problems. Most identified parents with intellectual disabilities have IQs between 60 and 80 and have been labeled as having mental retardation. Some are so labeled despite having IQs above 75, the accepted cutoff for a diagnosis of mental retarda tion (American Psychiatric Association, 1994; Luckasson et al., 1992). In this chapter, the term “intellectual disabilities” will be used to describe persons with IQs less than 80 who are considered by the social service system to have mental retardation (Mercer, 1973). Parents with intellectual disabilities routinely have their children removed from their care, often without evidence of child maltreatment (Hayman, 1990). Concerns about parenting by persons with intellectual disabilities center more on physical and psychological neglect than physical and sexual abuse. In the United States and Canada, about 80% of these parents have their parenting rights terminated, primarily because of actual or potential child neglect (Feldman, Case, & Sparks, 1992; Feldman, Sparks, & Case, 1993; Seagull & Scheurer, 1986; Taylor et al., 1991).


Mental Retardation Parent Education Intellectual Disability Parenting Skill Apply Behavior Analysis 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maurice A. Feldman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyQueen’s University and Ongwanada CentreKingstonCanada

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