Trust and Communication: Perspectives of Mothers of Children with Disabilities on the Role and Importance of Communication in Trusting Relationships with Teachers

Julia B. Stoner Ed.D., CCC-SLP

Maureen E. Angell, Ph.D.

Illinois State University

Abstract

Trust is imperative to effective relationships between teachers and parents of children with disabilities.  Communication is the foundation on which trust is established and maintained. This study employed a qualitative research design to investigate the perspectives of 16 mothers of children with varying disabilities, of varying ages, and from varying geographical regions regarding the role of communication in establishing and maintaining trust with their children’s teachers.  Analysis of the interview data revealed that (a) the mothers used two primary communication strategies, dialogic and problem-focused, when interacting with their children’s teachers, and (b) the perceived teacher responses had a significant effect on either facilitating or inhibiting trust in mother-teacher relationships. Discussion of the findings addresses recommendations for education professionals as they forge effective and trusting home-school partnerships with parents of children with disabilities.

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