Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Curricular Studies

Department or School/College

College of Education and Human Sciences

Committee Co-chair

Morgen Alwell, Gail McGregor

Commitee Members

Roberta Evans, Lynne Koester, Kathleen Lubansky


Down syndrome, Early childhood education, Mothers, parents, qualitative


University of Montana


Life experiences of young mothers of preschool aged children with Down syndrome were explored in this qualitative narrative study. Intensive interviews of four purposefully chosen young women were conducted. The findings of this study illustrate the impact of a preschool aged child with Down syndrome on the life of a young woman.

A variety of themes were identified. The primary themes were the background of the woman, including her public school experience, learning of the diagnosis of Down syndrome, supports, the child's medical complications, learning to cope and the impact of that disability on their day-to-day lives.

Child care and career were both impacted by the fact of the child's Down syndrome. Medical complications and behavior strongly affected day to day life. None of the participants recall positive inclusion experiences with other students with disabilities. The participants told of confronting bias in their immediate social circles and local communities. They also mentioned gathering support, and beginning to grow into advocates for their children. Expert knowledge and law are different from actual practices and widespread beliefs about the value of persons with disabilities in our society.

The shared experiences provide insights into what it really is like to be a young mother of a child with Down syndrome. Suggestions for future research and lessons learned by the researcher were presented.



© Copyright 2011 Janice Driscoll Nugent