Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Sandra K. Squires

Second Advisor

Dr. Aaron Armfield

Third Advisor

Dr. Neal Grangenett


The purpose of this study was to investigate the needs of parents of mentally retarded children in both China and America and to determine whether a significant difference exists between the needs of the two groups. It was hoped that the study would also help American readers understand more about the needs of Chinese parents. Participants in this study were 72 parents of mentally retarded children. They were composed of 45 Chinese parents from six provinces across China and 28 American parents from Nebraska. The parents responded to a questionnaire on which they rated their needs in the areas of parent training, understanding the cause of the disability, medical care, respite care, collaboration with teachers, understanding by the community, financial assistance, and information. They indicated their highest hope for the future of their child in a separate question. They also ranked their need priorities in an open ended question. Chinese parents responded to a questionnaire written in Chinese and the American parents responded to a nearly identical questionnaire written in English. The questionnaire was developed by the author with the help of University of Nebraska at Omaha students and professors, Nebraska parents, and Chinese special education leaders. The central question addressed was, "How would the rating of needs by a sample of Chinese parents compare to the rating of needs by a sample of American parents on the topics of parent training, financial assistance, understanding by the community, respite care, understanding the cause of the disability, medical care, collaboration with teachers, and information?" Results of the study indicated that there was a significant (.05 level) difference in the need for parent training, understanding the cause, medical care, respite care, and collaboration with teachers. There was no significant (.05level) difference in the need for understanding by the community, and financial assistance. Limitations of the study were discussed. Suggestions were made for further study that included expansion of the study to wider populations of parents after improving the instrument with the help of information gained from parent responses to the open ended questions. Concluding comments included the observation that some of the differences found may have been due to a lack of availability of service in China and a high degree of need for Chinese parents.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts: Mental Retardation University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Keli Mu July, 1993