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Colección: La Educación
Número: (129-131) I,III
Año: 1998

Material and Methods

The purpose of this study was to describe a population of families with special needs children in a middle-sized city in southern Brazil, and compare their needs with a similar population in the USA. To do so, data were collected from families of children who had been identified as having one or multiple disabilities and attending one of the two special schools: the Center of Rehabilitation of Pelotas (CERENEPE) and the Special School Professor Alfredo Dub. Families of children admitted in 1991 were the subjects of the present study without any criterion of exclusion. A total of 51 families were invited to participate in the research. The participation was verified through a written parent consent form. The 51 families agreed to participate, but during the data collection period, two families abandoned the school program, and were not included in the results of the study.

The information was gathered through a structured interview where the parent or caretaker was asked to answer a sociodemographic questionnaire, which was exploratory in nature and designed to gather family sociodemographic characteristics through structured and open-ended questions. The other tool used was the Portuguese version of the Family Needs Survey (FNS-Form HX Revised) (Bailey and Simeonsson 1992). The Family Needs Survey  consists of 49 items designed to assess family specific needs. It is divided into six main topics: need for information, family and social support, financial needs, explaining to others, child care, and community services. The child’s records were reviewed for additional information concerning the diagnosis and level of severity of the child’s problem. The data management was performed with the Epi Info (Dean, Dean, Burton and Dicker 1990) and the analysis through the Statistical Package for Social Science, version 4.0. A comparison was made between the study of family needs in Pelotas and a similar study in the USA (Bailey, Blasco and Simeonsson, 1992). In order to determine whether or not the proportions of needs in the two samples were equal, a normal test (Z) was performed to assess statistical significance (Kirkwood 1988).