Families and individuals with developmental disorders (DDs) often experience difficulties with claiming their rights (Bakker and Van Brakel, 2012) and a set of social determinants help or hinder how families can support their child with DD (WHO, 2003, 2017; Valentine et al., 2016). Therefore, empowerment of families and development of support services has been on the policy agenda (UNCRPD, 2007; WHO, 2008) and a focus in global research (Wakimizu et al., 2017; White et al., 2018).
In my PhD, my objective is to understand community empowerment and empowerment processes of families raising children with a DD. My project considers how socio-economic and cultural factors impact caregiver empowerment and how contextual variations affect the development and implementation of caregiver interventions. It does so in the form of two case studies, one in Ethiopia and another in Argentina, combining a global mental health approach with that of international development.
In this Pudding Seminar I will be focusing on the case study in Ethiopia, where I conducted 60 individual interviews with members of the following stakeholder groups: caregivers of children with developmental disorders, teachers, advocates, clinicians, community health workers, NGO representatives, officers from health and education ministries and members of UN agencies. Interviews were conducted in English and in Amharic and following their translation and transcription, data were analysed thematically. I will be presenting preliminary results and discuss the following themes: 1) supporting children with DDs while living in poverty; 2) single mothers and the role of gender in caregiving; 3) availability gap between policies and grassroot level.
Coming from a professional background in social and developmental psychology, conducting research in the intersection of international development and global health means having to deal with specific ethical and moral challenges. As part of this talk, I would also like to reflect on the journey of collecting disability- and mental health-related data as a PhD candidate in a cross-cultural setting. As health professionals, are we prepared for the ethical dilemmas that the intersectional work presents? Is there a clear-cut line between health research and advocacy for empowerment of families with DD?
Zsofia Szlamka is a developmental psychologist and alumna of Newnham College. She is currently a second-year PhD student in King’s College London, investigating empowerment and service development for families with developmental disorders in Ethiopia and in Argentina. She is currently serving as a curator for the Global Shapers Cambridge Hub. She is co-leading VOICES, a women’s empowerment platform connecting young women to opportunities, operating in Cambridge and Dublin. Find out more about the Project VOICES here: https://www.facebook.com/Voices-468305160581483/
And discover Zsofia’s blog here: https://travelandpsych.wordpress.com/