Adaptation and resilience in families of individuals with down syndrome living in Ireland

Maria Caples, Anne-Marie Martin, Caroline Dalton, Lynne Marsh, Eileen Savage, George Knafl, Marcia Van Riper

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Down syndrome is a genetic condition that affects people of all races, nationalities and socioeconomic status. The incidence of Down syndrome in Ireland is estimated to be 1 in 546, with approximately 7,000 people with Down syndrome living in Ireland. While some families of individuals with Down syndrome may find it difficult to adapt, other families adapt successfully and some even thrive. The aim of this study, which is guided by the Resiliency Model of Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation was to examine linkages between family demands, family appraisal, family resources, family problem‐solving communication and family adaptation in families of individuals with Down syndrome living in Ireland.

Ninety‐five parents (79 mothers, 16 fathers) of children with Down syndrome aged between 1 and 30 years completed six self‐report measures designed to assess key dimensions of the Resiliency Model of Family Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation.

This study found that families of children with Down syndrome can adapt and become resilient. Factors found to positively influence this process include family hardiness and affirming family communication. Factors that negatively influenced this process were incendiary family communication and view of the condition impact.

Families of children with Down syndrome have the potential to lead full and productive lives and positively adapt to their child’s diagnosis. Early recognition of the difficulties being experienced by families and the provision of interventions that target and foster positive resiliency traits such as affirmative communication and the development of overall family hardiness are key to adaptation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities
Early online date20 May 2018
Publication statusEarly online date - 20 May 2018


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