Living in New Zealand with a child with special needs : the perception and experiences of Chinese immigrants : a dissertation.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
This study aims to understand the Chinese immigrant parents' perception towards their children's special needs, based on the social constructionism ideology and to capture the essence of their experiences living in Christchurch, New Zealand. These experiences have been presented with a narrative inquiry approach. The researcher draws on personal and social interactions throughout the research in learning about this topic. Seven Chinese families with children with special needs were recruited, four through word of mouth and three through a special school. Mothers of these seven families were interviewed using open-ended questions. The open ended research plan led to four phases in this study. The first phase involved carrying out a brief survey among practitioners in Christchurch to understand the contemporary issues regarding working with Chinese families with children with special needs. The second phase included investigation of the connotation of special needs in Mandarin terms. The third phase consisted of recruitment and interviews with the first four families, and then in the final phase, with another three families. Themes emerged from the data included: Parenting practices, the role relationships within the family unit, the perceived important skills for the child, parental investments, familial support, social support and professional support. These themes were incorporated into two parts: The primacy of the family unit, and Support. The centrality of parenthood in Chinese society in terms of the cyclic enactment of acceptance, and responsibility was highlighted. With one exception, the parents in this study reported engaging in different activities including learning about the child's disorder, carrying out intervention at home and adjusting the family lifestyle to the child's needs. The parental investment indicated parental resilience in facing the child's problem. The findings of the study were used to draw out commonmyths the professionals have regarding Chinese families with children with special needs, and to suggest strategies for more appropriate services and areas of future research.