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Positive perceptions of disability proclaims that people with disabilities make positive contributions to their families and communities. It asserts that “dis”abled does not mean “un”able, that the “broken-ness” of people with disability is a false stereotype, and that service providers, policy leaders, and community members should regard a person with a disability as a person first and then having a disability, much later. The idea of positive perceptions of disability has its base in two distinct but related theories: (a) stress and coping theory, and (b) resilience theory.

Researchers investigating how people cope with challenges in their lives have learned that those who focus on positive elements of the experience do much better in terms of their ability to meet those challenges. In the healthcare field, professionals in fields ranging from oncology to psychiatry have found that cancer patients or others facing life-threatening illness or long-term disability, can experience seemingly “miraculous” recovery if they can maintain a sense of hope and positive perspectives of their challenges. At the Beach Center, we have similarly found connections between families who are able to meet the challenges of their child’s disability, and their ability to refocus their beliefs about their child’s disability in a positive way. Specifically, we have found that parents who cope well are able to (a) identify positive contributions of their child’s disability to their family, (b) believe their family is doing as well or better than other families, and (c) feel they are able to control what happens to themselves and their child.

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785-864-8983
KU Libraries
1425 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045
785-864-8983

KU Libraries
1425 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045