Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Zewelanji Serpell

Second Advisor

Dr. Marcia Winter

Third Advisor

Dr. Yaoying Xu

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Wendy Kliewer

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Accardo


Studies suggest that parental expectations can influence the developmental trajectory of a growing child. However, the role of parental expectations in the lives of children with disabilities such as intellectual disabilities or autism, and children in Africa in general, to date, has received little attention. Using a cultural psychology framework, the current study examined parental and service provider expectations for children with intellectual disabilities or autism in two African countries: Ghana and Zambia. A mixed-method approach involving the use of concept mapping and quantitative strategies was used. A total of 20 parents and 16 service providers participated in four separate focus groups (one parent and one service provider focus group in each country). During each focus group, participants generated statements representing expectations that were sorted into thematic groups and rated on two criteria: importance and likelihood. In phase 2, the generated statements from both focus groups per country, were distributed to a larger group of participants (Ghana N=128 and Zambia N=79) who were asked to rate each statement on importance and likelihood. Results showed that both parents and service providers shared expectations that were congruent with previous literature. However, the contents of these expectation themes were nuanced in a manner that reflected the cultural and historical time period of each region. Additionally, parents and service providers had unique expectations for children that highlight other important aspects of children’s lives in these regions of the world. Within each focus group, differences emerged in the perceived importance and likelihood of the thematic clusters. In Ghana, there were significant differences between parents and service providers on the perceived importance and likelihood of some thematic clusters (e.g. independence, vocational opportunities, and educational opportunities). Results are discussed in relation to the cultural salience of particular themes, and implications for future research, intervention and policy development.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission