Families' experiences of providing nutrition to their child with global developmental delay: a phenomenological thesis

Brown, Tania Karla
Water, Tineke
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Master of Health Science
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Auckland University of Technology

There is a growing body of research about the feeding challenges that children with global developmental delay can face and the prevalence of obesity; however, there is little research from a family/caregiver’s perspective about the difficulties and challenges in providing nutrition to these children. This study aims to partly redress this situation. The purpose of this study is therefore to investigate the experiences of families in providing nutrition to their child with global developmental delay. Although this study was open to any family member(s) or caregiver(s) of a child with global developmental delay, it was only mothers who participated. Seven mothers were interviewed and shared with me their experiences with their child. Through my interpretation of the mothers’ stories combined with my understanding from the literature, I was able to gain a deeper insight into the meaning of their experiences, that is: providing nutrition to a child with global developmental delay. Using the qualitative methodology of phenomenology, I sought to describe and interpret the meaning of the mothers’ experiences, and to explore what these meant for the mothers in their everyday lives. The methodological steps proposed by van Manen (1990) were used to analyse, interpret and present the study’s findings. The methodological steps of van Manen (1990) revealed three themes from the mothers’ experiences. These three themes are: finding their own way, re-branded water, and just getting on with it. The key findings from these themes suggest that families experience limited practical help and support in addressing their child’s feeding challenges. Families must find their own way and create their own communities of support. Finding their own way means developing their own strategies to manage their child’s feeding challenges and ways of just getting on with life and dealing with the everyday challenges that can be experienced in raising a child with global developmental delay. The complex nature of the feeding challenges that can be experienced by children with global developmental delay suggests that ‘help’ for families is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Bearing this in mind, I have provided some recommendations and suggestions for practice, education and future research that go some way towards looking at ways in which these families could at least be better supported.

Phenomenology , Global developmental delay , Nutrition , Feeding challenges , Childhood obesity
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