Struggles with time: The careers of parents with adult sons and daughters with learning disabilities

Stuart Todd*, Julia Shearn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The experiences of parents with adult offspring with learning disability and the meanings their parental careers have for them, has been the subject of very little empirical research. In this paper we describe and examine some of the features that gave shape and meaning to the day to day lives of parents of 33 co-resident adults with learning disabilities. Their accounts of their situations revealed that 'time' was a factor of some importance. Participants suggested that socialisation into the parental role was one that continued over the life course. In addition, they also felt that the services they received were based upon an inadequate and too narrow an understanding of how they experienced 'time'. The data reveal that both 'over time' and 'in time', parents struggled to maintain a set of aspirations for a typical life. The data show that for many parents there was a slow accommodation to the constraints of service provision and, as a result, their needs for service support became less extensive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-401
Number of pages23
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • learning disabilities
  • parents


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