Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret P. Gessaman

Second Advisor

Dr. Sandra K. Squires

Third Advisor

Dr. Aaron Armfield

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Dick Wikoff


This study examined the relationship of actual versus needed parent participation and stress explained by social support. It was the goal to develop a better understanding of individual differences in parents having a handicapped child related to actual and needed parent participation in their child's educational program. The subjects were 100 parents of children across various handicapping conditions from 2 to 25 years of age (M = 11.1) in Omaha, Nebraska. Twenty-eight fathers and 72 mothers completed the questionnaires. The majority of respondents were married (80%). The data collection procedures requested the completion of a "Demographic Data Sheet," the Social Support Questionnaire Short-Revised (Sarason, et al., in press), the Questionnaire on Resources and Stress - Friedrich (Friedrich et al., 1983). Four hypotheses were stated: (1) parent's indication of availability of and satisfaction with social support will predict parental stress; (2) parental stress, availability of and satisfaction with social support will predict actual parent participation; (3) parental stress, availability of and satisfaction with social support will predict needed parent participation; (4) there will be a difference between actual and needed parent participation. A full model multiple regression analyses and a t-test were chosen to to test the hypotheses. Results indicate that social support is a significant predictor of parental stress associated with having a handicapped child in a here-to-fore untested population (M = 11.1 years). Stress and social support neither predicted actual nor needed parent participation. A difference (22%) between actual participation and needed parent participation was found, providing empirical backup for unmet parent participation needs. Results were discussed in terms of similarities and differences with other studies. Original assumptions were reconsidered in light of the new findings. Implications for further research were suggested.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska at Omaha In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts: Mental Retardation University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Ralf W. Schlosser August, 1988