Publication Date


Degree Granted


Institution Granting Degree

University of South Florida


Parents, Ideal, Adult lives, Cognitive disabilities


Education | Special Education and Teaching | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


The purpose of this research was to investigate parents' perceptions of ideal adult lives for their children with significant cognitive challenges. Additionally, this researcher investigated what role disability played in participants' concepts of ideal adult lives for their children with disabilities. For the purpose of this dissertation, significant cognitive challenge was defined as a person having an IQ below 50 and an expected need of 24 hour a day care during adulthood. Six participants were chosen. Each participant received a copy of the interview protocol before the interviews. Each parent participated in two face-to-face interviews and one follow up telephone interview. All interviews were taped. Transcripts were reviewed for reoccurring properties or themes.

The following four reoccurring properties were found. Family values played an important role in the formulation of participants' answers. Participants placed a high priority on caring relationships for their children in adulthood. The way participants create the meaning of disability and adulthood played an important role in how participants formulated their answers. Participants did not envision a change in their relationship with their children as they matured into adulthood.

Implications of these findings point to an increased understanding of the transition to adulthood of people with significant disabilities. This study pointed to the importance of listening to families and uncovering disempowering assumptions that limit the opportunities of people with significant disabilities in adulthood.

Further research is needed on relationships of people with significant disabilities. More research on the mutuality in adult-to-adult relationships when one member has a significant disability is warranted. More research and discussion on the way people create the meaning of the constructs adulthood and disability is warranted.

This research has implications for professionals in the field, lawmakers, people with significant disabilities and their families.