Maternal emotional reactions to young children with different types of handicaps

Robert M. Hodapp, Elisabeth M. Dykens, David W. Evans, Joseph R Merighi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Emotional reactions were examined cross-sectionally over the 1-to 6-year period in mothers of children with Down syndrome (N = 25) and with predominantly motor impairments (N = 20). Mothers rated their degree of concern about 16 early milestones and four events, and were also interviewed with the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. Although milestones occurring during the first year caused higher levels of maternal concern than did later-occurring ones, concern was also evident for some later milestones. Mothers of Down syndrome and of motor-impaired children were equally concerned about motor milestones, but mothers in the Down syndrome group were more concerned about developments in communication. The two groups modulated their maternal concern based on different aspects of the child's communication skills. The timing, specificity, and sensitivity of maternal reactions identified in this study are discussed in relation to the unidirectional, time-bound model of “maternal mourning.” J Dev Behav Pediatr 13:118–123, 1992.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-123
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Down syndrome
  • maternal mourning
  • motor impairments
  • recurrent mourning


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