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Ordinary Families, Special Children: A Systems Approach to Childhood Disability 3ed

by Milton Seligman and Rosalyn Darling Guilford Publications
Pub Date:
Ebk 434 pages
AU$99.00 NZ$103.48
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This popular clinical reference and text provides a multisystems perspective on childhood disability and its effects on family life. The volume examines how child, family, ecological, and sociocultural variables intertwine to shape the ways families respond to disability, and how professionals can promote coping, adaptation, and empowerment. Accessible and engaging, the book integrates theory and research with vignettes and firsthand reflections from family members.

I. Conceptual Framework

1. Introduction and Conceptual Framework I: Social and Cultural Systems

2. Conceptual Framework II: Family Systems Theory and Childhood Disability

3. All Families Are Not Alike: Social and Cultural Diversity in Reaction to Childhood Disability

II. The Family Life Cycle

4. Becoming the Parent of a Child with a Disability: Reactions to First Information

5. Childhood: Continuing Adaptation

6. Looking to the Future: Adolescence and Adulthood

III. The Family System

7. Effects on the Family as a System

8. Effects on Fathers

9. Effects on Siblings

10. Effects on Grandparents

IV. Approaches to Intervention

11. Professional–Family Interaction: Working toward Partnership

12. Perspectives and Approaches for Working with Families

13. Applying a Partnership Approach to Identifying Family Resources, Concerns, and Priorities: Developing Family Service Plans

“This important book does a wonderful job of integrating the authors' longstanding themes of respect and compassion with the most current information on the family functioning, treatment, and education of people with a range of disabilities. This is an exceptionally valuable resource for professionals in any discipline who serve families coping with disability. It will be a useful text for graduate students in social work.”

- Sandra L. Harris, PhD, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey


“The scholarship and keen insight of Seligman and Darling have informed and guided my work as a clinical psychologist with families of children with disabilities, as well as my own family life with a child who has autism. This book is a tour de force of breadth and depth in its summaries of research and theory and their real-life applications. It is truly an essential and comprehensive resource for practitioners and researchers, and an excellent text for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in special education, social work, psychology, family studies, and pediatric specialties.”

- Robert A. Naseef, PhD, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


“Seligman and Darling effectively blend clinical insight, current research, and cultural sensitivity in this substantive and exciting third edition. The book demonstrates how researchers look beyond the impact of special children on mothers, promoting a conceptualization of family well-being that includes fathers, siblings, and grandparents. Offering fresh perspectives on families, this extraordinary book is sufficiently accessible for students and will also be appreciated by professionals in the field.”

- Jan B. Blacher, PhD, University of California, Riverside
Milton Seligman, PhD, is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology in Education at the University of Pittsburgh. His chief academic interest is in the area of childhood disability and the family. Other areas of instruction and scholarship include individual and group psychotherapy and clinical supervision. Retired since 2004, Dr. Seligman maintains a private practice and serves on the editorial board for the Journal for Specialists in Group Work.


Rosalyn Benjamin Darling, PhD, is Professor Emerita of Sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Prior to assuming her academic position, she served for 15 years as the executive director of an agency serving young children with disabilities and their families and was the founder and first president of the Early Intervention Providers Association of Pennsylvania. Dr. Darling has authored or coauthored eight books and numerous articles and chapters on disability and human services. She has played an active role in many state- and national-level disability-related organizations and committees and is currently engaged in research on orientations toward disability.