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A phenomenological study of the experiences of helping professionals with learning disabilities

Madeline Lorraine Peters, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this study is to explore the extent, to which professionals in helping professions (PHPS) with learning disabilities are able to name the support, services, and assistance that they require to successfully engage in the full range of activities for their daily living. Additionally, the study explores how PHPS describe their experiences with support, services, and assistance available to them. The study was conducted using a qualitative, phenomenological in-depth interview methodology. The study sample consisted of 10 helping professionals with learning disabilities that work in helping professions. Data was collected using audiotaping of interviews and field notes. Audio tapes were transcribed and data from the transcriptions was analyzed for this study. Nine major themes emerged from the analysis of the study data the themes were disability, daily living, oppression, self-esteem, self-reflection, creative management, creative management adaptive behaviors, services and support. Key findings from the study suggest that professionals in helping professions (PHPs) with learning disabilities are creative, strong willed and persevere despite the odds. Most of the PHPs went through school without accommodations and relied upon their own abilities and determination to pass. Two out of the ten PHPs were diagnosed with learning disabilities when they were children. Three of the PHPs were born before learning disabilities were formalized and labeled as a disability. The data suggests that people with learning disabilities need support, services and assistance in all areas of their daily living. Recommendations for change are provided for addressing the problematic themes that emerged from the data.

Subject Area

Adult education|Special education

Recommended Citation

Peters, Madeline Lorraine, "A phenomenological study of the experiences of helping professionals with learning disabilities" (2010). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3397740.