19.10.2023 Academic Article

The Unsung Heroes: Fathers and the Wellbeing of Children with Intellectual Disabilities

By Juliana Mersah Ansah
The Unsung Heroes: Fathers and the Wellbeing of Children with Intellectual Disabilities
19.10.2023 LISTEN

Intellectual disabilities refer to significant limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior, which manifest during the developmental period. These limitations make it difficult for individuals with intellectual disabilities to understand and apply new information and skills, leading to challenges in various aspects of their lives such as communication, social interaction, and independent living. The presence of fathers in the everyday lives of children with intellectual disabilities has seen an increase in recent years (Boström & Broberg, 2013). There is a growing body of research noting the significant role fathers play in supporting their children with intellectual disabilities and how they adapt, cope, and interact within those challenging circumstances. We can now boldly say that fathers have moved from a place of hostility and abandonment of their children to a place of love, adaptation and care for their children which in my opinion is worthy of an applause.

In the heart of Kumasi, a remarkable truth has emerged - fathers are not just silent spectators in the lives of children with intellectual disabilities, but rather, they are guiding stars, casting light on a path filled with potential and promise. A typical visiting day at the garden city special school is a moment worth experiencing as parents bond with their children through various ways and activities, but fathers effortlessly are the center of attention as these kids are profoundly drawn to them and always overjoyed to have their fathers present.

In a world where inclusivity and understanding are the cornerstones of progress, it is imperative that we acknowledge the extraordinary role fathers play in nurturing and supporting their children. This revelation transcends stereotypes and offers a beacon of hope to families navigating the unique challenges posed by intellectual disabilities.

Consider for a moment the global landscape, where over a billion souls, representing 15% of the world's population, grapple with various forms of disabilities. In Africa, these numbers rise dramatically, with a staggering 40% of the population living with disabilities. Among them, a significant percentage includes children of school-going age. This is not merely a statistic; it is a call to action, a plea for understanding, and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Now, let us focus our gaze on Ghana, a nation with its own narrative woven into the diversity of humanity. The 2010 Population and Housing Census revealed that approximately 3% of the population experiences disabilities. Among these brave souls, 15.2% bear the mantle of intellectual disabilities (GSS, 2012). These challenges, arising from a multitude of causes, serve as a reminder of the importance of tailored care and support.

In the heart of every family that embraces a child with an intellectual disability, a caregiver steps forward, often the mother, bearing the weight of responsibility with grace and determination. These caregivers navigate a complex landscape, from addressing physical limitations to nurturing intellectual growth, from helping find their voice to guiding them through behavioral complexities. This journey is not for the faint of heart, but it is one marked by boundless love and unyielding hope.

Yet, amidst this scene, fathers have often been cast as mere shadows, distant figures in the narrative. A study conducted in Kumasi Metropolis reveals a different truth. It paints a portrait of fathers who are not just providers, but pillars of strength and unwavering support. They are active participants, offering not just financial assistance, but also emotional, physical, and spiritual guidance. Some tend to be more involved and committed to their wards than the mothers as it is portrayed.

Crucially, this revelation challenges the notion that caregiving is the sole domain of mothers. It champions the idea that both parents, regardless of gender, hold the power to shape the destiny of their children. It is a clarion call for inclusivity within the family unit, a reminder that every voice, every contribution, is invaluable.

As we look ahead, let us envision a future where fathers stand proudly alongside mothers, offering love, support, and hope for a brighter tomorrow. Let us celebrate these unsung heroes, for they are the guiding stars that light the way for children with intellectual disabilities, illuminating a path of boundless potential.

In Kumasi, and in every corner of the world, fathers are stepping forward, ready to be the unwavering support their children need. They are the living embodiment of hope, proof that love knows no bounds, and a testament to the extraordinary power of a parent's love. They are the guiding stars, and together, we can ensure that their light shines brightly for all to see.

Hug a father of a disabled child when you see one and motivate them

Its time fathers of children with intellectual disabilities are given the needed recognition!