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The role of fathers raising children with learning and developmental disabilities at different life stages

Fathers of a person with a disability are not often involved in research, which means that we know little about their experiences and the kinds of support that would be helpful. Understanding fathers’ roles at different times in their child’s life has been identified as a research priority.

What is the study about?

This pilot study aims to understand the role and involvement of fathers of individuals with learning and/or developmental disabilities. We are particularly interested in hearing from dads of children across different age stages (childhood, adolescence, adulthood) to learn about how fathering changes as their child ages and the kinds of support dads may need at certain times in their child’s life. We are looking for fathers to talk to us about topics including:

  • Expectations of fatherhood
  • Things that you do with and for your child
  • Support you have received or would like to have received
  • How your role may have changed over time

The knowledge generated from the study will help design a larger study and shape future support for dads and their families.

What would taking part in the study involve?

A telephone or Zoom interview at a time that suits you (evenings and weekends included). The chat should take no longer than an hour, and as a thank you for your time you will receive a £25 gift voucher.

Optional preparatory activities to bring along to the interview (time commitment 5-10 mins)

  1. Draw a relationship map (i.e. family tree) showing key family members/ people in your life
  2. Consider up to 3 key events that have influenced your parenting journey

Who can be involved in the study?

We are looking to involve fathers of children (4 years+), adolescents, or adults who have a learning disability, developmental disability (for example autism, Down syndrome), or both, who are in regular contact with their child (but do not have to live in the same household).

Please get in touch if you are unsure about whether you fit the study criteria contact Emma at

Who is leading the study?

Emma Langley is a researcher interested in researching and supporting the well-being of fathers of disabled children.

She is the co-leader of the Fathers Active In Research (FAIR) group.

The project involves dads of disabled individuals from the Fathers Active In Research (FAIR) group who act as advisors to research studies. They are involved in many aspects of this project including: the review of the interview questions and recruitment materials, the dissemination of study findings, and design of future research studies in this area.

How do I find out more?

To find out more about the study, register your interest and a member of the research team will get back to you.

For dads by dads’ see video resources co-produced by a local group of dads to support the well-being of other dads of disabled children.