This qualitative phenomenological study, through interviews, aimed to understand the experiences of parents of children with significant multiple disabilities about their children’s eating habits. Review of literature indicated disparities in health between people with significant disabilities (SD) that include intellectual disabilities (ID), intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD), or multiple impairments (MI) and people who are typically developing. People with significant disabilities are at a higher risk for obesity, future weight gain, underweight and/or malnutrition, adherence to a less-healthy diet, and problem behaviors during meal time. Semi-structured initial and follow-up interviews used general questions to gather data, which were subsequently coded and examined for themes across participants. Five themes emerged from the interviews and were compared to findings in the literature. This study included some unique characteristics: detailed descriptions of the children’s eating habits, family experiences around these habits, and what habits are going well for the children.


Significant Disabilities, Eating Habits, Qualitative Research

Author Bio(s)

Brianna Grumstrup earned her bachelor's degree in elementary and special education, and her master's degree in special education from the University of Nevada, Reno. She has nine years’ experience teaching adolescents with significant disabilities and supporting teachers of children with significant disabilities. She is currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Nevada, Reno and hopes to become a professor upon completion. Current research interests include health education for children with significant disabilities and special education teacher preparation. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: bgrumstrup@nevada.unr.edu.

MaryAnn Demchak earned her Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University and is currently a professor of special education at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is also the director of the Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project, a statewide project that provides technical assistance to families and service providers of children who have impairments in both vision and hearing. Her current research interests focus on research methodologies in special education, data-based decision-making, and various issues related to instruction of students with severe disabilities. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: mad@unr.edu.

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