Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Department

Educational Leadership

Advisor's Name

Tonette S. Rocco

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Thomas G. Reio

Advisor's Name

Delia C. Garcia

Advisor's Name

Luz S. Porter

Keywords

illicit drugs, substance abuse, mothers, rehabilitation, American Sign Language

Date of Defense

3-25-2010

Abstract

Globally, approximately 208 million people aged 15 and older used illicit drugs at least once in the last 12 months; 2 billion consumed alcohol and tobacco consumption affected 25% (World Drug Report, 2008). In the United States, 20.1 million (8.0%) people aged 12 and older were illicit drug users, 129 million (51.6%) abused alcohol and 70.9 million (28.4%) used tobacco (SAMHSA/OAS, 2008).Usually considered a problem specific to men (Lynch, 2002), 5.2% of pregnant women aged 15 to 44 are also illicit drug and substance abusers (SAMHSA/OAS, 2007).

During pregnancy, illicit drugs and substance abuse (ID/SA) can significantly affect a woman and her infant contributing to developmental and communication delays for the infant and influencing parenting abilities (Budden, 1996; March of Dimes, 2006b; Rossetti, 2000). Feelings of guilt and shame and stressful experiences influence approaches to parenting (Ashley, Marsden, & Brady, 2003; Brazelton, & Greenspan, 2000; Ehrmin, 2000; Johnson, & Rosen, 1990; Kelley, 1998; Rossetti, 2000; Velez et al., 2004; Zickler, 1999). Parenthood is an expanded role that can be a trying time for those lacking a sense of self-efficacy and creates a high vulnerability to stress (Bandura, 1994). Residential treatment programs for ID/SA mothers and their children provide an excellent opportunity for effective interventions (Finkelstein, 1994; Social Care Institute for Excellence, 2005).

This experimental study evaluated whether teaching American Sign Language (ASL) to mothers living with their infants/children at an ID/SA residential treatment program increased the mothers’ self-efficacy and decreased their anxiety. Quantitative data were collected using the General Self-Efficacy Scale and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory showing there was both a significant increase in self efficacy and decrease in anxiety for the mothers.

This research adds to the knowledge base concerning ID/SA mothers’ caring for their infants/children. By providing a simple low cost program, easily incorporated into existing rehabilitation curricula, the study helps educators and healthcare providers better understand the needs of the ID/SA mothers. This study supports Bandura’s theory that parents who are secure in their efficacy can navigate through the various phases of their

child’s development and are less vulnerable to stress (Bandura, 1994).

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