Cultural beliefs about disability and related systems of special education affect the experience of children with disabilities and their parents/This article reviews research on die perceptions and experiences of parents who have preschool or elementary school-age children with disabilities in the United States and Japan. Parents' experiences affect their children's development - for example, through caregiving and advocacy for appropriate services. Existing research suggests that U.S. and Japanese parents report similar difficulties, including difficulties establishing relationships with professionals providing services for their children, but that they have different expectations regarding these relationships. Japanese parents are more likely to emphasize the importance of emotional connections, such as empathy, with professionals and to express feelings of stigma, whereas U.S. parents are more likely to assert that their children are entitled to receive appropriate educational resources. These experiences reflect structural differences in U.S. and Japanese special education services. Parents' perceptions also have the potential to recreate cultural beliefs and eventually modify service delivery systems to reflect those beliefs. Discussion of U.S. and Japanese concepts of disability suggests ways in which services in both countries may be strengthened. The Japanese case suggests ways of strengthening empathy and trust, and the U.S. case provides a positive model of inclusion.
- School social work
- Special education