|dc.description.abstract||The self can be regarded as a complex psychological structure that is constantly evolving and becoming; it is constructed and re-constructed in family relations and through shared social experience. Within a family, people are provided with support, nurturance, a sense of belonging and information about their identities, also referred to as a self-concept or sense of self.
The aim of this study was to use Appreciative Inquiry as an intervention (a) to explore how adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities saw their sense of self within family relationships, (b) to explore how family members viewed and experienced intellectually challenged adolescents’ sense of self, and (c) to determine the effectiveness of using Appreciative Inquiry as an intervention approach to strengthen the sense of self of intellectually challenged adolescents within family relationships.
A mixed method embedded design was adopted, incorporating a single system experimental design, A-B-A-A. Twenty-four intellectually challenged adolescents between the ages of 11 and 14 years and their families living in the same households were purposefully selected and randomly divided into an experimental group and a control group. Before and after the intervention, the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory: Youth Version (BarOn EQ-i:YV) was administered to the adolescents of both groups, and the Family Environmental Scale (FES) was administered to their family members.
The qualitative data were collected by means of the Appreciative Inquiry “5-D” intervention process with families from the experimental group, and by means of semi-structured interviews with adolescents from the experimental group after the intervention. It was found that families expressed their experience of adolescents’ sense of self by referring to characteristics/attributes and abilities/disabilities that they perceived as the self and connected to positive and/or negative experiences. Intellectually challenged adolescents experienced their sense of self through their relationship with family members and significant others, and constructed a sense of self separate from their disabilities. However, they were fully aware of the stigma attached to their disability. They also referred to characteristics, abilities/disabilities, and positive/and or negative experiences.
The quantitative findings indicated no statistically significant changes in the experimental group (post-intervention) on the BarOn EQ-i:YV and the FES, given the small sample size. However, there were a noticeable upwards medium to large movement on some relevant scales in both the BarOn EQ-i:YV and FES in the experimental group and a decline in the control group. The qualitative findings suggest some evidence of the potential of using Appreciative Inquiry as an intervention to strengthen a sense of self in intellectually challenged adolescents in family relationships. It offers an innovative approach to professionals as an alternative to the deficit model, as it focuses on the positive core of families that raise children and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The findings also indicated that intellectually challenged adolescents’ perceptions of their sense of self, their identity formation and development through adolescence are no different from those of neuro-typical developing adolescents. The families of intellectually challenged adolescents can be seen as families in distress, because of their unique challenges in raising intellectually challenged adolescents, including a lack of support from the wider family, friends or society, and their negative experiences of stigmatisation associated with the disability. The study has shown that adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be regarded as a vulnerable sector of the population whose needs should be addressed with sensitivity, especially in the selection of standardized tests, in test administration and in therapeutic interventions||en_US