An analysis of Haitian parents' perceptions of their children with disabilities

Josee Gregoire, Florida International University


Parental involvement is an integral part of the educational system in the U.S. Yet, parents from non-mainstream racial/ethnic backgrounds have not fully grasped the nature of parental involvement expectations in the educational process and how these expectations may impact student achievement. The purpose of this study was to identify Haitian parents’ perceptions of their children with disabilities and the education these children were receiving. Several authors have conducted studies on parents of children with disabilities to better gain an understanding of the level of their involvement with their children’s education, their perceptions of the children, and their views on the school system (Harry, 1992a, 1992b). In this study, Haitian parents of children with disabilities were interviewed using an interview protocol. Through these interviews, this study explored 10 Haitian parents’ perceptions of their child with a disability, the education the child was receiving, their interaction with the school system, and how the disability had affected their relationship with their child and their involvement with the school. Findings of the present study revealed that these Haitian parents seldom disagreed with school personnel and did not seem to fully grasp the different methods available to address their concerns as parents of children with disabilities nor the role they were expected to play in the process. The majority did not have basic literacy skills in Creole or English. The parents in this study were overwhelmed by school written communication. Additionally, this study discovered that parents’ perceptions were guided by two core concepts: coping mechanisms and locus of control. Parents with an internal locus of control, who tended to be more educated, focused inward to find solutions to problems encountered. Those with an external locus of control relied on outside influences to resolve their problems. Parental involvement was strongly influenced by their values, beliefs, customs, and conceptual knowledge about disability; all closely aligned with culture and acculturation. Overall, these parents’ perceptions greatly influenced their thoughts and behaviors when they realized that their children with disabilities might fall short of their immigrant dreams of success they held for these children.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|English as a Second Language|Multicultural Education|Special education|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Gregoire, Josee, "An analysis of Haitian parents' perceptions of their children with disabilities" (2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3470219.