Support network of mothers with an intellectual disability: An exploratory study

Gwynnyth Llewellyn*, David McConnell, Rosemary Cant, Mary Westbrook

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses the characteristics of the support networks of mothers with intellectual disability who, as a group, are among the most socially isolated mothers in Australian society. Mothers' support networks were defined as the core of their social networks, that is, who provides help to mothers and to whom they can turn to for help. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 mothers in a large metropolitan city to identify - from the mother's perspective - who they identify as their support people. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of the data revealed three distinct types of support networks based on mothers' living arrangements as follows: mothers living in a parent/parent figure household, mothers living alone with their child/children, and, mothers living with a partner in their own household. Because mothers in each network type experience varying frequency of support, differing proportions of informal and formal support people, differing degrees of reciprocity in their relationships and the nature of the support experienced varies, the need for considering maternal living arrangements prior to determining professional involvement in mothers' lives is emphasized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-26
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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