This study is aimed at looking at the relationship experiences between the adolescent with visual impairment in institutional care and his family. A lack of sufficient guidelines in this field has been identified in the relevant literature. Experts working with these adolescents have confirmed this shortcoming. In order to reach the required goal, a number of objectives were set. By means of a literature study and consultation with experts in the field of blindness as a symptom (in terms of the degree of visual impairment that is experienced), a theoretical framework was set up with regard to the following: adolescence as part of life; the adolescent's relationship with his family; institutional care and institutionalization; as well as play therapeutic assessment and play therapeutic techniques. An empirical study where semi-structured interviews were used as a method of data collection, was undertaken to assess the relationship of the adolescent with visual impairment in institutional care with his family. The following aspects were handled specifically: the way the adolescents with visual impairment in institutional care experience holidays and weekends with their families; their view of their families' perception of them coming home for holidays or weekends; their opinion with regard to family chores and responsibilities that are allocated to them; their experience of participating in the decision making process in the family; their perception of the treatment that they receive from their parents – does it differ in any way from that of their siblings?; their view with regard to “feeling part of” the family as an equal and complete family member; their opinion with regard to things that they would have liked to be done differently during their growing up process; as well as advice that they would give to parents who have children with the same disabilities. Individual semi-structured interviews were used with the ten respondents. Applied research was undertaken as the researcher aimed at establishing solutions for problems that occur with the adolescent with visual impairment in institutional care with regard to his relationship with his family. The researcher used a qualitative approach as research procedure in order to get qualitative empirical data. Considering that in this study a relatively unknown field was researched, a phenomenological strategy within an exploratory study was used to explore, understand and interpret the research question, which is not well known. The research question formulated for this study was: What are the experiences of the adolescent with visual impairment in institutional care with regard to his relationship with his family? Empirical data, which was obtained by using an interview schedule and a play therapeutic technique, showed that: § Adolescents with visual impairment in institutional care are experiencing ambivalent feelings (positive and negative) with regard to spending holidays and/or weekends with their families. There are a variety of factors influencing this experience, whether positively or negatively. § The way adolescents with visual impairment in institutional care view their families' perception with regard to them coming home for holidays or weekends, is mainly influenced by three factors, namely: special activities that are organized during the time that the adolescent is at home, as well as verbal and non-verbal behavior that is communicated towards the adolescent. § Adolescents with visual impairment have a specific opinion with regard to chores and responsibilities that were allocated to them since they were younger. This includes aspects like the adolescents' willingness and ability to complete chores, as well as their willingness to ask for help. They intimated that they are willing to accept chores and responsibilities as they experience positive feelings when they are able to complete such tasks successfully. § Adolescents with visual impairment in institutional care have a specific opinion about their participation in the decision making process in the family. This includes emotions that are experienced with regard to the decision making process (positive emotions are experienced when their opinions are asked in family decisions), their involvement in the decision making process, as well as the influence of decision making on the atmosphere in the house. § Adolescents with visual impairment have a fixed perception with regard to the treatment that they receive from their parents. This perception includes the following aspects: a need for normal treatment, the consequences of preference treatment from their parents, strict treatment (overprotective treatment) from their parents, as well as the emotions they experience about the type of treatment that they are exposed to. § The way adolescents with visual impairment view themselves as “part of” the family - as equals to all household members - is influenced by the following aspects: the influence of institutionalization on the feeling of “belonging to“ (adolescents are away from home for long periods of time and the only contact they have are telephone calls); family events (special activities in which both the family and the adolescent participate during holidays or weekends); family interaction (the families communicational patterns during holidays or weekends); as well as the private space of the adolescents (bedrooms). § Adolescents with visual impairment have a specific opinion with regard to things that they would have liked to be done differently during their process of growing up. They feel that their families should have more insight into the world of people who are visually impaired. They also have the need to be treated in the same way as other family members – they do not want to be overprotected. § Adolescents with visual impairment want to give relevant advice to parents of children who have the same disability. The advice that they suggested are: The child must function more independently; parents must be honest with their child at all times; the child must be treated normally; a feeling of unconditional, positive acceptance must be revealed to the child; no unnecessary restriction must be imposed on the child. They also gave advice with regard to general information (to expand parents' knowledge). The study revealed the experience of the adolescent with visual impairment in institutional care of his relationship with his family, which holds further research possibilities. The desired information was acquired and can be used in further studies of the adolescent in a similar situation.
Dissertation (MSD (Play Therapy))--University of Pretoria, 2006.