International research reveals an over-representation of parents with intellectual disabilities (ID) in the child welfare system. Over five decades of research demonstrates that external and environmental issues, such as poverty, untreated mental health issues, domestic violence and lack of adapted and adequate support, have a far more reaching effect then the intellectual disability per se on parenting capacity. Intervention studies have clearly demonstrated that parents with ID can parent effectively or acquire the necessary skills when provided with the right supports. In seeking such support, parents with ID have good reason to be cautious. The threshold for entry into the child welfare system for parents with ID tends to be based on pervasive and entrenched pejorative assumptions and sometimes unsubstantiated concerns. Moreover, when they enter the system what is offered to them as a family is commonly not evidence based and woefully inadequate. Rather than the system taking responsibility for failing these families, it tends to project its failure onto the parents and more specifically their ID, blaming them for not engaging, lacking insight, being uncooperative and resistant and/or incapable of learning and changing. So then, should we be talking about complex needs of these families or should we focus more on the complexities of their life circumstances, their family relationships and relationships with formal services? This keynote will emphasize the ways in which parents, service providers and natural supports can work together in order to maximize self-determination of parents with ID to promote family quality of life.

Marjorie Aunos

Biography: Marjorie Aunos, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned researcher, adjunct professor at two Canadian Universities and clinical psychologist. She was a Director of Professional Services within a health and social service agency in Montreal, Canada and founded an evidence-based program for parents with an intellectual disability that is nationally recognized and deemed as best and promising practice by accreditation Canada. Dr. Aunos is also the chair of the Parenting Special Interest Group of the International Association on the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability. She has led a number of book chapters and national and international conferences. She was a co-editor on the double special issue on Parenting by persons with intellectual disabilities of the Journal of Applied research in Intellectual Disability in 2017 and has published in many and various peer-reviewed journals.

Laura Pacheco
MSW, Ph.D.

Margaret Spencer

Back to all abstracts