Resilience processes in adolescents with intellectual disability : a multiple case study
The purpose of this study was to examine the phenomenon of resilience by means of a literature review (to obtain a theoretical view) and empirical research, particularly to understand why some adolescents with Intellectual disability (ID) were resilient. Firstly, my motivation was curiosity (as teacher of many years of adolescents with ID) about why some youths coped better with the daily challenges that ID brought than some of their peers with ID. Secondly, there was a gap in the existing literature. Although there were studies that, among others, reported the rights of adolescents with ID to quality service provision, the risks that they and their parents/caregivers could expect daily, and challenges and coping skills for teachers/parents and caregivers who worked with these learners every day, I could not locate any South African studies, and only five international studies, that reported the protective resources/processes in adolescents with ID. The purpose of the study was to hear the voices of the adolescents themselves regarding what they, from the reality/context of their life-world, viewed as that which supported them, intrinsically as well as extrinsically, towards resilience. I also asked the teachers (as secondary informants) who worked with the adolescents with ID every day to complete a questionnaire about what (risks as well as protective resources), in their opinion, had an influence on the resilience of these adolescents with ID. I did this qualitative case study with the help of 24 primary informants (that is, adolescents with ID) who all attended schools for the physically and severely intellectually disabled in Gauteng province, South Africa, and 18 of their teachers. On account of the limited literacy of the adolescents with ID, I used a visual participatory research method, namely, draw-and-talk. This involved the primary informants drawing what made them “strong” in life. This was followed by informal conversations where the adolescent informants explained what they had drawn and why. The findings of this study were in agreement with existing literature that reported that resilience was a dynamic, socio-ecological, transactional process between the adolescent with ID (obtaining and using protective resources) and his/her surrounding environment (the ability of the community to supply these resources that could serve the adolescent with ID as buffer against daily risks). The findings included previously non-reported protective processes, namely a supportive social ecology that treated the adolescent as an agentic being (providing opportunities for socially appropriate choices and dreams for the future after school life) and the importance of providing safe spaces for adolescents with ID to be nurtured (children’s homes and/or school hostels). The study also considered what resilience processes there were in the currently existing schools for the physically and severely intellectually disabled. These considerations were aimed at teachers with the hope that they would support teachers and schools to support the adolescent with ID towards resilience. In summary, the study hoped to capacitate teachers, parents, and caregivers to better understand the adolescent with ID and to be aware of how they could support the youth to be resilient.
- Education