Special Education ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-14-2018


This narrative study examined (1) how women raising school age children with disabilities in one of Zimbabwe’s urban areas, articulated and conceptualized (a) their children’s disabilities and (b) their experiences as mothers of children with disabilities and (2) how their social status, marital status, age, ethnicity, and/or race intersected with their experiences of raising children with disabilities. A localized understanding of how mothers view their children’s disabilities was important because it influences results of any interventions their children might receive. Eight participants volunteered to have three interviews each, with me. Utilizing the social construction of disability, intersectionality, and thematic analysis in Dedoose [an online software] to analyze the interview data, three major themes emerged: six A’s of access, identity construction, reconstruction, and deconstruction narratives, and coping mechanisms. Results show that participants conceptualized their children as diverse individuals who were good children, capable children, and children like any other children. Some mothers viewed their experiences of raising their children with disabilities as “a battle” and “a problem” to emphasize how raising children with extra needs could be challenging and that these children need parents who fight like warriors fighting a “battle” for them to besuccessful. Additionally, participants’ religion, ethnicity, race, nationality, gender, the country’s economic situation, social, economic, and marital statuses were some factors that combined in ever-changing and mutually compelling ways to fashion their experiences. Results also point to the need for parent and teacher education, appropriate and contextually relevant resources, services, and supports for students with disabilities in Zimbabwe.


narrative study, intersectionality, social construction of disability, identity construction, reconstruction, and deconstruction, access, hegemonic

Document Type




Degree Name

Special Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Special Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Julia Scherba de Valenzuela

Second Committee Member

Ruth Luckasson

Third Committee Member

Susan Copeland

Fourth Committee Member

Ruth Trinidad-Galván