Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Down syndrome, Fathers of children with disabilities, Fathers, Postnatal support, Disability oppression


This exploratory study was undertaken to investigate the experience of fathers upon the receipt of the news that their newborn baby had been given a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Skotko's (2005a, b) study revealed that mothers of children with Down syndrome had predominantly negative postnatal experiences. Mothers reported feeling anxious, frightened, guilty, angry, and in a few cases suicidal. I gathered information from interviews with 13 fathers. Interview questions were designed to explore the fathers' experiences of postnatal support. The criteria for the study involved that the participants must have a biological child who was born with Down syndrome in the United States in the last 15 years. Additionally the father must have interacted with the western medical community regarding their child's birth. The major findings of this study revealed that fathers often experienced the messengers of the news of a postnatal diagnosis of Down syndrome as insensitive and pessimistic. Fathers often reported that they received the news of the diagnosis separate from their wife or partner. Participants frequently explained that they were not congratulated for the birth of their child. In many cases fathers recalled that the diagnosis was not disclosed by their obstetrician. And fathers reported that they were usually notified of the diagnosis without the presence of their newborn. Findings for this study implicate that a larger scale and multi-culturally diverse study is necessary. Overall, fathers felt strongly that hospitals should be more prepared, and that medical personnel should have better training for delivering a postnatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.




iii, 79 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 66-68)