Family relationships and their association with perceptions of family functioning in mothers of children with intellectual disability

Dr Emma Langley, Assistant Professor

Much of the existing research into families of children with intellectual disabilities has focused on the individual with intellectual disability rather than the family as a whole. Therefore, Emma’s study investigated three family sub-system relationships (marital/partner, parent-child, sibling) and their association with overall family functioning.

Emma used mothers’ responses from Wave 1 of the 1,000 Families Study measuring family functioning, and the quality of the marital, sibling, and parent-child sub-system relationships in 467 families.

Functioning in the separate three family sub-systems (marital/partner, parent-child, sibling) was associated with overall family functioning. How mothers felt about relationships in all three family sub-systems was related to how they perceived their family to be functioning overall. This study shows the potential for systematic family interventions which aim to improve functioning at an individual, sub-system and family unit level.

The link to the full paper is here. If you would like further information or you have any questions about this study, please contact us at [email protected].


Langley, E., Totsika, V., Hastings, R. P., & Bailey, T. (2021). Family Relationships and Their Associations with Perceptions of Family Functioning in Mothers of Children With Intellectual Disability. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 126(3), 187–202.

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