The aim of this study is to establish the impact of mental retardation on family functioning. The researcher conducted the research in the Waterberg district of the Limpopo province. The lack of insight on the part of the family on how to cope with such circumstances motivated the researcher to conduct the study. Most families do not have the experience of caring for a mentally handicapped member and therefore need information and support on how to cope with the condition. The study is qualitative and exploratory in nature. The research question was; “What is the impact of mental retardation on family functioning”? A simple random sampling was used in the study. The sample was selected from all the registered children attending three different day- care centres in the Waterberg district for the past three months prior the investigation. Ten parents (one per household) of children with mental retardation were interviewed using a semi structured interview schedule. A phenomenological design was used and participants’ experiences of family life and reactions to the realization that they have a child with mental retardation are discussed. Data consisted of audio taped and written interviews. The data collected was transcribed and analyzed according to qualitative methods. The research findings show that mental retardation has an impact on family functioning. Families had to make new adjustments to accommodate the child and his/her special needs. The researcher recommends that service providers should receive training on issues related to mental retardation so as to provide the much needed services to these families. It was found that the burden of caring, financial constraints, lack of community support, the manner in which the disclosure was handled and the lack of services, all had a negative impact on the family.
Dissertation (MA(Social Work))--University of Pretoria, 2008.