Erie Brotherliness’s ecology of development refers to the environmental settings which the person is experiencing, or is linked to directly or indirectly, an interconnection between the Microsystems, Microsystems, ecosystem and Microsystems in the context of the children, their families, peers, cultures and communities (Smith, Cookie, & Blades, 2003). In view of that, the impact affecting children and their families from any changing trends and issues are also interconnected.
As family is the basic primary social group of the child in providing security; care, food and shelter and guides the individual’s early colonization, therefore the well-being of children changes as the formation of family changes and vise versa (Earl & Fop, 1999). Hence, the family system is indeed a major force that influences the children. Changes Affecting Families, Family Life and Structures There are several major rising issues and trends in Malaysia society and societal change with regards to children and families.
One particular changes directly or indirectly affecting families, family life and structures, hence changing the ecology in Malaysian childhood, is the rising issue of disabled children. According to the World Bank calculations, Malaysia would have round a high figure of 2,200,000 disabled persons in 2000 (Shore, 2002). The numbers of special needs children are increasing and are a concern in today’s trend due to the lack of resources and support in the context of families and society in within Malaysia.
The definition of special needs include both the child with developmental disabilities and the child who is exceptionally able where they differ from the normal children in mental characteristics, sensory abilities, communication abilities, behavior and emotional development or physical characteristics (Kirk, Gallagher & Anastasia, 2003). With this rising once, it is only appropriate to critically reflect and discuss these particular changes that have or are taking place for children and childhood in the various contexts in which they live.
Disabled children and their parents The birth of a child with a disability can represent a severe stress to the family system as parents nearly always react strongly in a negative manner regardless of their educational background or socioeconomic level. Most parents must face two major crises, firstly the emotional state of feeling shock, denial, guilt, anger and sadness before they finally adjust, and secondly s the problem of providing daily care for the child such as difficulty in feeding, dressing, bathing, putting to bed and so forth, depending on the specific types of exceptionalness (Kirk, Gallagher & Anastasia, 2003).
With a disability added to the family, the daily responsibilities grow larger and this reality changes in roles, behaviors and culture of the family and in many occasions family plans are impeded. Poss. able consequences The inability of the children with disability to grasp and interpret the behavior and communication of others can create long-term social problems, but since he emotional repertoire of the child is socially constructed, hence it can be socially modified with special education (Kirk, Gallagher & Anastasia, 2003).
According to Bowes (2004), children with disabilities are more vulnerable to be victims of crime and subject to abuse than are those who are developing normally. Bowes added that there are also constraints on education, employment and peer relationships as well as restriction on marital opportunities. However, there may be differences across cultures in different countries, for instance, unlike most western countries; there is no legislation hat provides specifically for the protection of the rights for the disabled in Malaysia (Disability Laws, n. D. ).
Therefore, to counter the disadvantages for these underprivileged children, there is a need to continuously advocating and demanding for the rights of special needs children and their affected families from the respective institutions. As disabled children are aware of the feelings and attitudes of others around them and in order to provide a stable environment for the emotional development of the child, parents are compelled to recover from their own state of mind in the shortest period of time which may result to severe stress ND some might even react with severe depression.
In contrast, some parents might resort to abandoning their disabled children and this is especially true within the low social economic status group due to financial incapability. Another impact on families is the overwhelming financial stretched, such as increased cost in unplanned bills for their disabled children and in some cases, therapies for the depressed parents themselves (Perkins, 2004). As parents struggles to cope with the financial demands of the disability, the pressures and the anxieties are both immediate and long-range.
Some parents may opt to give up their highly paid job to fully commit themselves to the development of their disabled children. In the contrary, some parents have to seek employment for the first time, or have to work more hours, or change jobs to meet ends such as medical bills and additional expenses. As a consequence, the changes affected parents’ work habits, roles, behaviors, lifestyles, family life and structures that may lead to arguments and marital stress.
Furthermore, when daily routines differ, a new set of culture takes place in the family and affects cross cultural relationships with extended families, relatives and friends which will be elaborated further later. Cultures may differ in types of condition that are regarded as acceptable, and these judgments may be influenced by gender, religious affiliation or social status (Bowes, 2004). Therefore, it is vitally important to provide social us port to assist parents to cope with such devastating situations and parents also need to understand that the child is always a child first and a child with problems second.
Disabled children and their siblings Besides responding to the event of the birth of a disabled child, parents also deed to respond to the reactions of other persons who are important to the system. Very often, the children of normal development may be needed to help care for their disabled siblings; as a result, their personal needs were overlooked (Thomas, 2004). Some older siblings may be held back from their own independence not only by their parents’ need for their help, but also by their own feelings of guilt about the situation.
Krause et al (cited in Bowes, 2004) found that a large proportion of siblings of individuals with an intellectual disability intended that their brother or sister would live with hem when their parents Were no longer able to provide care. However, there are inevitable consequences arisen from these changes that affect siblings and their families. When one of the children is disabled and requires special help or frightening medical treatments, the relation between brothers and sisters is affected.
Siblings experience new fears, sadness, anger, and heightened anxiety. Siblings are often coping with many family challenges, including changes in roles, responsibilities and differences in their sibling relationships, and there is a concern about the effects these changes have on sibling’s social- motional adjustment which may lead to a risk for psychological maladjustment (e. G. Poor self-esteem, anxiety & cognitive problems) (Sandburg & Fish, 2001).
However, while there were many negative consequences embedded from caring for their disabled siblings, there were optimistic outcomes that must not be overlooked. There is evidence that the brothers and sisters of a disabled child, with reports finding more positive relationships in these families as compared to families where all children are developing normally (Bowes, 2004). Parents often worry about the effect that the disabled child has upon siblings, such as are they neglected and will they grow resentful of the child with special needs?
According to Hannah & Midland’s (1 999, as cited in Kirk, Gallagher & Anastasia, 2003), there does not seem to be any tendency for the siblings Of children with disabilities to be more disturbed or stressful than the siblings of children without disabilities. Disabled children and their extended families, neighborhood and communities In the event where families try to gather sources in helping their disabled children, extended families, neighborhood and the communities play a pivotal role in providing support to the affected families.
Community partnership represents one of the most challenging yet one of the most effective efforts for creating a flexible, comprehensive system that meets the needs of the children and families” (Brown, Make, Spent & Scott-Little, 2002). As the needs of family changes, generally the human ecology also changes due to their interconnection mentioned earlier. These ecological changes aim to improve the environment surrounding the child, including the family and communities, basically the entire context of the child.
Hence, there is a need to establish collaborative partnership that involves all relevant ratters, such as homes, schools and communities in the planning and monitoring of services for children. In view of the changing needs, there may be profound impacts affecting families, family life and structures. Poss. able consequences The needs of a disabled child may make it necessary for a family to change its relationship to the outside world such as seeking for various kinds of treatment and assistance from others in paying bills, running errands, babysitting, ferrying the other children and so forth.
The cultural differences in societal attitudes towards children with disabilities may impact the beliefs, attitudes and values on those affected (Bowes, 2004). Some parents may be isolated socially from their previous social networks and the withdrawal is either intentional due to embarrassment or they may be too pre-occupied in providing care for their disabled children. Not forgetting, some parents demarcate their social boundaries due to societal discrimination towards their disabled children.
As a consequence, these changing needs may strain the relationship between the parents and the extended families, relatives, friends and neighbors. However, on a positive note; it can also be enriching ND supportive as they are rich potential sources of support and learning to the family (Minimize, 1983). The changes affecting families, family life and structures had prominently influenced the changes and provision of government policies to protect special needs children. It had also led to the availability of community services to help enlighten problems families with disabled children are encountering.
For instance, human rights and education policies for special needs children enable the individual child with disability to the rights for formal education, employment and eliminate discrimination. Financial subsidiaries and income tax deduction from the government help to ease financial burden while enabling parents to provide the demands and maintaining other aspects of family life especially for families of poverty. The availability of child care services are an appropriate service provider for working parents to place their disabled children in while they work to meet ends.
Health service providers help to reduce mortality rate of special needs children. Public access on buses, buildings, pavements and so forth are a relief for children with disabilities and families. Government and non-governmental charity, laundry organizations and support groups are a form of emotional and physical support to improve family life and structures. In addition, these changes pushed parents to come forward to advocate for the rights of their disabled children especially with the convenience of numerous websites, agencies and service providers made available to the public (Wilson, 2006).
A well advocated example that is worth imitating is a forum for families with special needs organized in year 2004 by the University Malay Centre for Family Development in Koala Lump where questions were put forth in rapid-fire fashion by the participants. One parent declared, As parents we set up intervention centre, form group homes. But it is not Our job, the government should take this burden off us. We parents keep taking on these functions, but when do we stop? ” The comment was directed at a panel comprising a mix of government officials, Non Governmental Organizations and disability experts (Limo, n. . ). Unfortunately, the changes also resulted to consequences such as health insurance coverage terms to vary. Furthermore, the mandatory system of including special needs children in the general education classroom may be unclear of its positive outcomes (Hines, 2001 Whether both the disabled hillier and the normal children are benefiting from the outcomes are currently unknown. Hence, it is important to recognize the role from both informal and formal aspects of society plays in supporting or increasing the burden on families, as well as the direct impact on the individual with disability (Bowes, 2004).
On the cultural front, it is understood that some families may embrace a long history of deeply rooted cultural background such as religious beliefs, language differences, values and customs, attitudes and behaviors towards authority and child-rearing practices that impede the need for positive regress or changes (Bowes, 2004). In view of that, it is the responsibilities of all partners to exhibit sensitivity in approaching cross cultural issues to the diverse cultural backgrounds. For instance, there is a need for schools and teachers to be sensitive to the complexity and changes in families in their interactions with special needs children.
Changes impacted on professional work in early childhood With the changing rising needs of disabilities, it has resulted to more enrolment of disabled children into regular education classrooms especially after the early intervention and inclusion programs for children with special deeds were introduced in Malaysia (Md. Rash, 2003). However, am uncertain if it is an appropriate developmental learning for both the disabled child and the normal child. Through my observation of a 4 year-olds autistic girl in the school I am currently teaching, I noticed encouraging but very minimal progress.
As for the other normal children, some responded with distress when they witnessed the disabled child cries and scream aloud. Some parents would even exhibit disapproving expression of her behavior. We read books and articles, serve the net, attended workshops and seek professional information n order to be a little more informed and knowledgeable in educating the disabled child. But is the progress justifiable? Is she physically, emotionally and socially progressing at a developmentally appropriate stage while she is with us?
Sadly, we are unable to answer these questions diligently because none of the teachers from the school have had any formal theoretical education or previous experiences In providing care for this diversity group of chi lilied. In many occasions we were helpless, tired and frustrated. As such, what is the solution? Should the school reject the entry of the child with special needs or et a budget for educators to attend relevant courses? Who is willing to bear the cost considering that a private operated school will not receive any form of funds from the government institutions?
Are Malaysian preschools ready for inclusion education? Perhaps the government should consider all the possibilities of consequences before executing a policy, or perhaps prepare the public and schools by creating sufficient awareness and providing sufficient resources before implementation takes place.