Gila Kornfeld-Jacobs, Ena Vaeazquez Nuttal
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
Bouvé College of Health Sciences. Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology.
Behavioral psychology, Emotional disturbance, Mild mental retardation
Parents of developmentally disabled children--Israel, Children of immigrants--Health and hygiene--Israel, Motherhood--Israel--Psychological aspects
Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences
This study examined the Ethiopian immigrant mothers' experiences and perception of raising a child with mild mental retardation and/or emotional disturbance. It also, investigated the association between Israeli Ethiopian mothers' ethnic identity, their perception of their children, and their seeking out and using of social services. Additional important topics that emerged were: mother's relationship with her children, her perception of other Israeli mothers, her perception of the special needs of the Ethiopian children, and how the child's difficulty would have been perceived--if at all--had they remained in Ethiopia. The study also raised additional subjects of interest such as the importance leisure hours for the children, the obstacle of languages for the mothers and, the role of the translator, in the study and at school. A qualitative, phenomenological approach was used to design, implement and analyze the results of the study. The interview questions were organized in three pre-determined categories: mothers' perceptions of problem/diagnosis/intervention, use of social services, and mothers' Ethnic identity. The participants for the study were fourteen Israeli/Ethiopian mothers of children between the ages of 7 and 14 who were diagnosed with an emotional problem and/or mild mental retardation. The results indicated that immigrating to Israel and raising a child that was referred to special education system was the most challenging experience that families have to face. Finally, it is believed that, through examining the microcosm of Ethiopian Jews' utilization of Israeli social services, broader observations might be made about the miscommunications and gaps in understanding that occur between majority and minority cultures. The question of ethnic identity turned out more complex in this group of immigrants than was assumed by the researcher of this study. Most of the mothers defined themselves as Israeli-Ethiopian, that is, possessing an integrated identity, which generally is considered the most successful solution. However, when they were asked to elaborate on this identity, they described an active Ethiopian identity which preserved their original identity of a person from Ethiopia. In the second group, the mothers defined themselves as possessing a solely Ethiopian identity, i.e., separation, while actively they were more likely to describe an integrated Israeli-Ethiopian identity, that is, preserving both identities at the same time. This dual identity process was expressed also in their behavior, language, in their contact with Israeli systems and welfare services, in the field of employment, in their relations with Faranji (Israeli) mothers and in the actual preservation of the system of their country of descent. These mothers accepted the diagnosis of their children and agreed to have their child placed in special education. Their connection with the school staff was better and they made use of existing professionals and social services. The results indicated that the way in which a mother perceives the difference between her own child and his or her other siblings becomes a significant key point in the mother's understanding of her child and her perception of his or her diagnosis and placement in a school for special education. The implications for the development of further research and the clinical implications were discussed.
Azoulay, Bracha, "Israeli Ethiopian mothers' perceptions of their children's mild mental retardation and/or emotional disorder, mothers' ethnic identity, and use of social services" (2008). Counseling Psychology Dissertations. Paper 2. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d10017690
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