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An Exploration of the Experiences of Fathers of Children with Disabilities

Samuel Williams[1], Department of Social Work, University of Portsmouth

Abstract

This article investigates fathers' experiences of having children with disabilities, which is an underdeveloped area of research. Autobiographies and blogs written by fathers were analysed to provide an insight into this issue. The main themes to emerge were that many fathers wanted to be holistically involved with their children's upbringing; however, fathers who were the primary carer for their children appeared to feel ambivalent about their role. The findings also illustrated that fathers of older children with disabilities had anxieties over the future, and needed further support during their child's transition into adulthood and adult services. The final and arguably most concerning finding was that professionals are excluding fathers: this is an area of practice which needs to be urgently addressed.

Keywords: Fathers, disability, fathers of children with disabilities, social work, autobiography, blogs.

Introduction

According to recent statistics there are 770,000 children with disabilities in the UK, and 99.1% of those children are living at home rather than in care (Contact a Family, 2009: 1). This indicates that there are likely to be vast numbers of fathers supporting their children with disabilities, but the experiences of these fathers are relatively unknown. This was highlighted in the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) research briefing 'Being a Father to a Child with Disabilities', where it was noted that there has been a lack of research focusing on fathers of children with disabilities (FCWD) resulting in insufficient literature on the subject. SCIE declared that the focus has predominantly been on the experiences of the child and the mother (SCIE, 2005: 3).

This article investigates the experiences of FCWD and provides insight into the issues that are of importance to them. This understanding may help professionals, particularly within the field of social care, to work with and support FCWD more effectively. A concern with discrimination and oppression informs this research and the recommendations for professional practice arising from it.

Research has shown that mothers undertake a much greater proportion of the caring responsibilities for children with disabilities than fathers (Ryan and Runswick-Cole, 2008: 205). This has led to extensive research into the experience of mothers, but has also resulted in a lack of literature on the role of fathers. This absence of a balanced perspective on parenting children with disabilities reflects the long-standing view that fathers are less pivotal than mothers in the work of raising children.

However, in 1997, with the advent of the New Labour government, issues around fatherhood became more prominent on the public agenda in the United Kingdom (Featherstone, 2003: 245). It had been noted that the government, post-1997, implemented new strategies designed to engage fathers in the services they provide such as Early Support and Sure Start (Carpenter and Towers, 2008: 118).

Collier (2011: 50) documents that a contributory factor to the continuing focus on fathers has been 'pressure groups' such as 'Fathers 4 Justice', and that their initiatives and protests have 'prompted responses from politicians, judges and policy makers'.

A greater emphasis on engaging fathers has become evident in policy documents for health and social care; for example, in the paper 'Every Child Matters' HM Government (2003: 20) specifically states that 'we should recognise the vital role played by fathers as well as mothers'. This increased focus on fathers has, I suggest, resulted in a slight increase in the amount of research focusing on FCWD, although there is still insufficient research on this topic.

Literature review

The following overview of the available literature regarding FCWD includes masculinity theories, as elements of these theories underpin my theoretical approach to help explore the experiences of fathers.

In one of the earlier studies available, it was noted that fathers experienced heightened emotions when first receiving news of their child's disability (Hornby, 1992: 371). However, it appears that these feelings are often repressed. Seligman and Darling (2007: 220-21) describe this process when they state that 'masculine role expectations demand that men maintain control of their emotions', adding that 'it can be devastating for fathers of children with a disability who would […] benefit from expressing their emotions of anger, sadness, grief and disappointment'.

In their research SCIE (2005: 1) found that work was a 'common coping strategy for fathers and important for identity and self-esteem'. Contrastingly, masculinity studies have outlined the inner conflicts that fathers (of non-disabled children) undertaking a full-time caring role can experience; for example, Smith (1998: 138) states that 'hegemonic conceptions of who ought to be minding the children and the house subvert or thwart these men's attempts to validate themselves and these practices'.

Both the older and newer literature has stated that having a child with disabilities can negatively affect the relationship between fathers and their partners (Lamb, 1983: 137; Towers, 2009: 4); however, it has also been found that the primary source of support for a high percentage of men remained their partner (Towers, 2009: 33). Support from friends has been identified as an additional, important source of help for fathers, along with interactions with other parents of children with disabilities (West, 2000: 19). It is noteworthy that both older and newer literature details concerns regarding the tendency of services to demonstrate a more dominant focus on the mother (McConachie, 1982: 169; Towers and Swift, 2006: 55).

Finally, it has been recommended that further research needs to be undertaken with fathers of older children with disabilities aged 11 upwards, to help identify what support fathers need as their children progress into adulthood (Carpenter and Towers, 2008: 124).

Methodology

I have chosen to analyse the blogs and autobiographies of FCWD using 'inductive reasoning', which Carey (2013: 50), referring to Padgett (1998: 2), describes as a method to 'discover, not test, explanatory theories'. Rather than entering this qualitative study with hypotheses, the aim of this research is to discover from the fathers themselves what issues are of importance to FCWD.

The choice to use both blogs and autobiographies is due to the potential advantages of having two differing types of material, as Balog et al. (2006: 1) state that blogs can be seen as an online version of a diary and 'tend to be unmoderated and subjective', and 'typically closely linked to ongoing events in the blogger's life'. Autobiographies, by way of contrast, are more reflective and generally more carefully constructed. Bauman (2002: 27) describes this contrast: 'unlike diaries […] written spontaneously […] autobiographies look back at the author's life from a long distance in time'.

Therefore, greater insight may be gained by analysing both autobiographies portraying reflective accounts, and the more spur-of-the-moment narratives contained in blogs. An additional incentive to analyse blogs is outlined by Hookway (2008: 92) who says that 'one area that has yet to be developed by social scientists as a rich source of qualitative data is the weblog'. Following an extensive search I could not find research which has analysed blogs of FCWD. Therefore the approach taken in this article may contribute to our understanding of the experiences of FCWD through offering a novel analysis of an under-utilised source.

The analysis consists of four sections: 'Fathers' involvement with their children', 'Roles undertaken by fathers', 'Fathers of older children with disabilities' and 'Service provision and professionals' interactions with fathers'. Each section is then divided into findings and discussion segments. The findings sections will largely be left unanalysed, focusing instead on enabling the voice of fathers to be heard. This is in line with a grounded theory approach as articulated by Speziale et al. (2011: 124) who argue for a focus which 'values the experience of the individual'.

Within the findings sections, the experiences of the fathers will be categorised using thematic analysis which, as described by Aronson (1994: 2), involves an analysis of the text where 'all of the talk that fits under the specific pattern is identified and placed with the corresponding pattern; from this, different themes will come to the surface as "the informants'" stories are pieced together to form a comprehensive picture of their collective experience'.

The discussion section will then continue with the next stage of the thematic process which involves cross-referencing the findings with existing literature (Aronson, 1994: 2), to see how they relate to present knowledge about FCWD.

To allow for commonalities in themes, discussions and arguments, the analysis below will not use separate sections to analyse blogs and autobiographies. However, what became apparent during the course of this research were a number of subtle differences in the way blogs and autobiographies were constructed. The possible information that can be deduced from these differences will be referred to sporadically within the analysis.

To further explain these differences, the length of the blogs provided a useful tool of gauging the importance of a subject to fathers, as blogs appeared to be longer when fathers were detailing matters of pressing concern to them. In comparison autobiographies appeared to be more carefully crafted, perhaps reflecting the increased amount of time taken in writing them, with the positioning of certain statements arguably being used to add emphasis.

Gathering the material

The intention was to collect approximately 20 accounts from fathers and to analyse these accounts using thematic narrative analysis. I aimed to include at least five fathers of older children aged 11 upwards (due to the aforementioned recommendation for further research with such fathers) and was successful in gaining accounts from seven fathers matching this criterion. Various search engines were used to collect the blogs, such as Google and Yahoo, along with blog-specific websites such as Blogspot and Blog.co.uk. After an extensive search eight blogs were found and analysed in their entirety, rather than particular excerpts being chosen for analysis.

To gain the autobiographical accounts the book Different Dads (2007) was used which contained 21 different autobiographical accounts. All accounts were analysed and a descriptive list of the fathers can be found in the Appendix.

Ethical considerations

I am aware that there are varying perspectives on the issue of ethical considerations towards the use of blogs in research and have chosen to undertake this study in line with recommendations from both Hookway (2008) and Wilkinson and Thelwall (2010) who argue that using blogs in research does not require consent to be sought from the authors. However, certain conditions apply. Firstly, the blogs must be publically accessible and not 'friends only' (Hookway, 2010: 105) and secondly, efforts need to be made to protect the anonymity of the author (Wilkinson and Thelwall 2010: 1).

According to these guidelines, all of the blogs used in this study are publicly available. Further, to ensure that the fathers remain anonymous, they are referred to as father (1), father (2), etc. Additionally, the names of their children have been replaced with YP (Young Person), and they have not been included in the reference list.

To further maintain the confidentiality of blogs Wilkinson and Thelwall (2010: 11), referring to Ess (2007), state that 'it seems necessary to avoid […] quotes or anonymise them by paraphrasing or altering words so that they are not searchable'. In consequence, the decision was made to paraphrase sensitive quotations where a significant emotional content is apparent, and to quote the fathers directly who are discussing more innocuous events. This strategy is taken to comply, as far as possible, with one of the core aims of this study which is to ensure that the voices of fathers are heard and acknowledged. The fathers and their narratives from Different Dads have not been anonymised as they are published accounts.

Analysis

Section 1: Fathers' involvement with their children
Findings

A major theme to emerge from the analysis was that fathers wanted to stress that they are involved in all aspects of everyday care for their children. Five fathers specifically made clear reference to this. For example father (1) said that 'on a personal level I am very much part of everything that goes on within YP's life'. Father (2) echoes this: 'I did all the things a team of nurses had previously done'.

A further theme that materialised in four of the fathers' accounts was that their involvement included actively gaining an in-depth understanding of their child's condition; for example father (14) proclaimed that 'there is a mountain of literature on the nature of autism and I anticipate spending much of the next decade ploughing through it'. This was also evidenced by father (2) who emphasised his dedication: 'I would spend a month or so attending the hospital at all times of the day and night getting to know [...] his care regime, his medications, gaining an in-depth knowledge of his condition, abilities'.

Discussion

Some commentators have argued that fathers are primarily interested in undertaking leisure-based activities with their children rather than being involved in all aspects of the caring role. Thus Hearn (2004: 260) states that 'many fathers continue to specialise in specific tasks such as taking the children out […] rather than the continual series of everyday work/care that comprises family life'. Therefore the findings suggest that this statement does not apply to all fathers. Clearly some do want to be involved in all aspects of their child's care.

A theme which appears in blogs and autobiographies, that of fathers' involvement progressing into gaining a good knowledge and understanding of their child's condition, does not appear to reflect previous research conducted by Waite-Jones and Madill (2008: 593) who suggested that FCWD only possessed 'some knowledge' about their child's condition. The above findings suggest that fathers often want to become more involved in the day-to-day care of their children, and thus may feel the need to educate themselves about their child's condition.

Section 2: Roles undertaken by fathers
Findings

Of the thirteen paternal narratives that detailed the current role they were undertaking, seven fathers stated that they worked, and six said they did not work due to being the full-time carer of their child.

A theme to emerge was that for three of the fathers work provided a sense of purpose. For example one retired father (13) stated that 'breadwinning is difficult and important', and father (4) highlighted the importance of his role as a breadwinner by saying 'I feel the need to work as many hours as possible in order to bring in money'.

Fathers who were full-time carers had mixed feelings about their role, seeing it as both a positive experience and also one that causes some conflict around stereotyped notions of masculinity. This is detailed in the following three examples:

one father (3), in a somewhat sarcastic tone, stated that he has 'microscopic issues with being a "child carer" rather than a "hunter gatherer".' The tensions of being a male carer were emphasised further by father (16) who said 'I prefer to say that I'm a "stay-at-home father" rather than a "househusband"; this is partially because the main reason for choosing to stay at home is to look after my kids not the house, but also because I find the word "househusband" somewhat emasculating'.

Another father (5) positively stated that 'before YP was diagnosed I was a working dad who liked to go to the pub after work, see my kids at the weekend […] Now I wouldn't change my job for the world'. The same father also showed an apparent inner conflict (which will be later discussed) as he also wrote 'I get more emotional now and I get upset more easier […] 'cos I used to be tough'.

Discussion

Britain has traditionally held a 'strong male-breadwinner model', and the importance of work was still apparent for a small number of fathers in the above findings. Christie (2001: 16) provides some historic context to the changing nature of men's roles:

When European welfare states were categorised by Lewis (1992) in relation to men's positions as 'breadwinners' in the 1990s, she described Britain as a 'strong male-breadwinner country' (although) men's ability to act as a breadwinner is increasingly compromised by changes in structures of families in the late 1990s.

The traditional breadwinner concept inevitably leaves fathers who are full-time carers feeling ambivalent about their role. The findings of this study confirm this, as the fathers who were full-time carers were in a dilemma about how to situate themselves in their accounts. The following two examples demonstrate this tension:

The first example comes from father (5), who, as previously mentioned, declared 'I get more emotional now […] 'cos I used to be tough'. If we pick this language apart a little we find that 'cos' is an abbreviated term and that such abbreviations are often associated with 'tough' and casual male speech. Coates (2003: 46), referring to male narratives and emotions, says that 'we have learnt to use our language to set a safe distance from our felt experience, and a way of doing this is by "talking tough".' This father appears to be worried that he will come across to the reader as not 'a real man' because he is a male carer. His use of 'tough' language is, I suggest, a way of asserting his potentially compromised masculinity.

The second example is the apparent inconsistency in how father (3) wanted to portray himself in his account. Bamberg (1997: 337) states when writing, people will pose the question '"How do I want to be understood by you, the audience?" and construct a (local) answer to the question: "Who am I?" simultaneously'. In relation to this, father (3) does not appear to know how he wants to be understood as there is a constant variation in how he presents himself in his account. To further explain this, at the beginning he states since becoming a carer 'I have been able to see how rich and wonderful life is […] I now see beauty in things', which is followed in the middle of his account by a description of a time when he broke down and cried while working. Directly after, the account takes on a much more masculine perspective, using phrases such as 'Don't be dictated to' and stating that he likes to 'chew the fat' over a beer with his mates. I put forward that this apparent uncertainty in how the father wants to portray himself perhaps reflects the uncertainty he feels about his position as a male carer.

These feelings of ambivalence towards being full-time carers are directly related to dominant views of men as breadwinners. Where fathers are carers they are anxious about how others view them as a male adopting the child caring role and showing forms of nurturance that are more usually associated with women (Smith, 1998: 1).

Section 3: Fathers of older children with disabilities
Findings

A minor but important theme to emerge was that of the six fathers who had their children living at home with them, two fathers expressed a desire to have independence. Father (8) remarked that 'my mother says one day I will have to get a life of my own and YP will have her independence and I will have mine, but we don't know what the future holds'; father (10), in the very last line of his account, asserts that 'mutual independence seems somehow unlikely, and yet that would be a form of age-appropriateness to be welcomed'.

Another noteworthy theme to emerge was that two fathers discussed their intentions of continuing to care for their children, but appeared anxious about ageing and not being able to cope in the future. Thus father (14) worried that 'we have to acknowledge the possibility of caring for YP until we are too old to do so. The thought of him entering care in his forties or fifties […] really frightens us'. In a more dramatic manner, father (9) questioned 'how long I will be able to cope before I surrender YP into Care? I am now 52 and as YP grows stronger I will grow weaker'.

Discussion

When we examine the first theme of fathers discussing future independence, we see that both father (8) and father (10) appear to insinuate that they would like independence at some stage, but neither seemingly take ownership for having these thoughts. For example father (8) uses his mother's opinion as a way of highlighting the issue of independence, while avoiding taking sole responsibility for having the thought.

Furthermore, father (10) also talks indirectly about independence as he uses a passive voice, stating that his child's independence would 'be a form of age-appropriateness to be welcomed', rather than 'one I would welcome'. This is another way of raising a point while distancing it from the self. Ledoux (2006: 184) explains that using a passive voice may show that 'the writer is perhaps having difficulty coming to "ownership" of the topic'.

The prospect of caring indefinitely for a child who possibly has a high level of need may appear a daunting prospect for some fathers, and they may want independence from this at some stage. But actually stating this outright may be difficult for some fathers, as they may feel that to express this would be a relinquishing of their parental responsibility. Furthermore, father (10) chose to discuss the topic of independence on the very last line of his autobiographical account, and as mentioned in the methodology, the autobiographical accounts analysed appeared to be very deliberate in the way they were constructed. This father clearly wanted to finish his account with a poignant statement. Rather than being a passing comment, the issue of independence was significant to him.

When analysing the theme of fathers fearing a future inability to care for their children, or a future of having to continue in their caring role indefinitely, the references that are made to coping, and growing weaker, reflect wider discourses on masculinity and the potential emasculations of ageing. Whitehead (2002: 200) makes this point succinctly: 'if masculinity is about [...] vigour, activity, mastery [...] then ageing is the inevitable process that puts under question such dominant representations of maleness'. These doubts cause fathers considerable anxieties, particularly emphasised by father (9). His use of the word 'surrender' suggests that he feels he is battling the ageing process, and is worried that he may lose this battle. This, in turn, would mean losing control over being able to care for his child.

Section 4: Service provision and professionals' interactions with fathers
Findings

In viewing their interactions with services, some fathers made positive comments. For example, father (6) declared that 'since we have lived in the UK [...] we have nothing but praise for the support we have received'; another father (17) emphatically announced that 'we also have a superb social worker'. Father (11) also made a positive comment about professionals involving him, saying that 'I always felt in the loop as a father'.

An important theme to emerge was that three fathers felt excluded when it came to invitations to appointments. For instance one father (15) mentioned that 'when arrangements are made it is always with the mother'.

This feeling of exclusion was not confined to the invitation of fathers to appointments, as three fathers also felt excluded when interacting with professionals; for example father (7) stated that 'I've noticed that professionals always talk to the mothers, so you feel a bit left out'.

In terms of the services and support for fathers of older children with disabilities, the only prominent theme to emerge was that five of the fathers discussed the support they had received or were waiting to receive during their child's transition into adulthood. Two of the fathers highlighted a positive experience. For instance father (13) explained that a social worker had secured a housing placement for his daughter, and stated 'her placement is regularly reviewed [...] and the individual social workers have always been most helpful'.

By way of contrast three fathers commented on how they felt poorly supported during their child's transition into adulthood. One father (12) rather dramatically said that 'If you think life is tough with a disabled child up until age 18, see what it's like after that, because so many of the services that you had just disappear'. Correspondingly, father (10) noted that 'we are beginning to find out about what is on offer after school ends. This is another cliff-drop into the unknown'.

Discussion

A concerning yet important finding was that although some fathers felt involved and positive about the support they had received, the greater majority felt that there was a much greater focus on the mother. Some were evidently annoyed at not being invited to all meetings. For example the quote by father (15) was contained in a 700-word blog that focused solely on him feeling excluded by services as a father, and as discussed earlier, from the considerable length of this blog, it is reasonable to assume that for him it is an important issue.

Furthermore, other FCWD stated how they felt excluded in meetings. This reflects the previous findings outlined in the literature review, where FCWD have felt excluded during their involvements with professionals (Towers and Swift, 2006: 55). This continuing exclusion from involvement with professionals will be discussed later in this article.

Section three of this analysis highlighted that fathers of older children have concerns about the future which relate to their child's progression into adult life and adult services. The findings in this section highlight that the fathers who are approaching, or are going through this period of transition, perceive the support given as inadequate.

Further discussion and recommendations

Many fathers showed a desire to be holistically involved with their children's upbringing. Nevertheless, those fathers who were full-time carers for their children felt ambivalent about their role.

The first significant finding of this article is that many fathers are eager to be involved in all aspects of their children's care. This contrasts with the literature review, which indicated that generally fathers focus on undertaking leisure activities with their children rather than practical caring activities. Moreover, the findings in section one of the analysis showed a theme of fathers describing their dedication to educating themselves on their child's conditions. This too, did not reflect previous research which found FCWD displayed only 'some' knowledge of their child's condition.

However, I feel that there needs to be further research to explore this as the fathers who take the time to write these reflective accounts may be those who are more likely to be full-time carers and/or be more involved with their child's care. This may explain why this particular finding differs from previous research.

An additional significant finding was that fathers expressed ambivalence when their involvement extended into the role of the full-time carer. Masculinity theories were used to argue that this feeling of ambivalence derived from concerns about how they would be perceived as a man adopting a traditionally 'female role', in a culture which has traditionally held a 'strong male-breadwinner' gender ideology.

Fathers of older children with disabilities: Anxieties over the future and further support needs

Two main themes emerged from the findings in section three of the analysis. Firstly, some fathers implied that they would like to have independence in the future. The apparent difficulty fathers had in stating this directly arguably reflected a feeling of guilt around the thought of not continuing to care for their child. Secondly, in contrast, other fathers wanted to continue caring for their child in the future but had anxieties about the possibility of being unable to do so due to their increasing age. It was argued that these fears are linked to issues of masculinity, and reflect the tensions that ageing can bring for men.

Although the above themes show differing anxieties, they both centre on concerns over the future. Professionals need to be aware that for fathers the period of their child's transition into adulthood and adult services is of critical importance. Professionals need to offer support, and give clear information as to what future services are available. Furthermore, they need to be sensitive to the fact that fathers may find it difficult to express their desire for independence. They also need to be aware that dominant ideologies of strong masculinity may make it difficult for fathers to express many of these concerns.

These concerns about the future and the need for professional support in this area are also confirmed in section four of the analysis. This section highlighted that although some fathers felt they were being effectively supported during their child's transition into adulthood, a greater majority felt that they were not. They were uncertain about what support will be available and, more generally, in what the future may hold.

Professionals excluding fathers

The final important finding to emerge was that some fathers felt excluded by professionals. This sense of exclusion stemmed from two principal causes: firstly, that some fathers were not being invited to meetings; and secondly, that during their interactions with professionals they felt they were perceived as being of lesser importance than the mother. Professionals need to be aware that this feeling of exclusion can be significant to fathers, typified by the father who wrote a 700-word blog dedicated to this subject.

This exclusion needs to be addressed by professionals because if fathers are intending to be more fully involved in their children's upbringing, as the above findings indicate, then they need to be better included. Moreover, there needs to be a particular emphasis on professionals supporting and involving fathers who are full-time carers, as, if issues of acceptable masculinity are making them feel uncertain about their role, professionals need to avoid excluding fathers and exacerbating that feeling of ambivalence.

The exclusion of fathers which is highlighted in the above findings resonates with other recent research, where FCWD felt excluded by professionals (Towers and Swift, 2006). Recent government plans to ensure that fathers are not excluded (as highlighted in the introduction), appear, from this analysis, to have been largely ineffective. Clearly further research is required to see why these initiatives are not working, and what new initiatives can be put in place to help rectify this situation.

Extending this, Towers and Swift (2006: 68) suggest that a possible reason for fathers feeling excluded is that the majority of social care staff are female and may feel less at ease dealing with fathers. Further research needs to be undertaken to explore this. If this is identified as a cause for exclusion, then arguably there needs either to be increased training for female professionals in how better to include fathers, or a larger male presence in social care to help balance these gender disparities.

Conclusion

Since 1997 various government initiatives in the UK have aimed at encouraging a greater focus on fatherhood. This research shows that in spite of these initiatives, understanding the experiences of mothers of children with disabilities has remained the dominant focus and left the experiences of fathers under-theorised. A rounded perspective requires research on both parents and therefore this study intends to strengthen the knowledge base on FCWD. Further research in the area would be valuable, particularly in order to explore the experiences of older FCWD as well as single FCWD and FCWD from ethnic minorities, to provide a greater understanding and guidance for professionals.


Acknowledgments

My sincere thanks go to my university lecturers Annabel Tremlett and Yohai Hakak for their continual and invaluable support.

List of Tables

Table 1: Details of fathers included in the study

Appendix

Table 1 gives a brief description of the fathers included in this study. Thirteen accounts from the book Different Dads (2007) were used along with four blogs.

To gain a representative sample I also attempted to retrieve accounts from a minimum of five fathers who were from ethnic minorities, but unfortunately only two such accounts were accessed. Possibly due to this small number, there were no emerging themes that were specific to fathers from ethnic minorities.

Father number Father's name and page from which quote(s) obtained Autobiography (contained in Different Dads) or Blog Current role: work/full-time carer Age of child with disabilities (when account was written)
Father (1) John: p.19 Autobiography Works 2 years old
Father (2) Phil: p.24 & 25 Autobiography Full-time carer 2 years old
Father (3) Rob: p.34,37 & 40 Autobiography Full-time carer 6 years old
Father (4) Simon: p.52 Autobiography Works 7 years old
Father (5) Kevin: p.70 & 74 Autobiography Full-time carer 9 years old
Father (6) Yuri: p.79 Autobiography Does not state 10 years old
Father (7) Steve: p.86 Autobiography Full-time carer 11 years old
Father (8) Jonathan: p.93 Autobiography Works 13 years old
Father (9) Tony: p.111 Autobiography Does not state 16 years old
Father (10) Paul: p.122 Autobiography Works 17 years old
Father (11) Richard: p.127 Autobiography N/A 19 years old
Father (12) Mike: p.135 Autobiography Full-time carer until his son's death 19 years old (age when passed away)
Father (13) John: p.148 Autobiography N/A 22 years old
Father (14) Anonymous Blog Works Unknown
Father (15) Anonymous Blog Works 8 years old
Father (16) Anonymous Blog Full-time carer Unknown
Father (17) Anonymous Blog Works 3 years old

Table 1: Details of fathers included in the study

Notes

[1] Prior to and during his Social Work degree, Sam Williams had experience of working within the field of disability with both adults and children. Having thoroughly enjoyed both opportunities he began to focus his research attentions on this area during his course. Since graduating he has been working for an educational charity called IntoUniversity which provides local learning centres where young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are inspired to achieve.

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To cite this paper please use the following details: Williams, S. (2014),'An Exploration of the Experiences of Fathers of Children with Disabilities', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/archive/volume7issue2/williams Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.