Diagnoses, labels and stereotypes: Supporting children with intellectual disabilities in the hospital

J Intellect Disabil. 2014 Dec;18(4):291-304. doi: 10.1177/1744629514552151. Epub 2014 Sep 22.


Children with intellectual disabilities (IDs) and their parents continue to experience stigma within health-care systems. Whilst some research studies have examined the stigma associated with children who have IDs, there continues to be a gap in understanding how the experiences of these children, their parents and nurses have been constructed personally, socially and institutionally. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 mothers, 12 nurses and 8 children. Feminist post-structuralism and discourse analysis were used to examine the experiences of children, parents and nurses with the intent of understanding the dominant taken-for-granted everyday practices as well as hidden or marginalized practices. Four main themes emerged, which included the theme of Diagnoses, Labels and Stereotypes, which will be discussed in this article. Participants provided rich detail about their experiences in the hospital and how they addressed and often attempted to challenge the stigma associated with children with IDs.

Keywords: children; feminist post-structuralism; hospital; intellectual disabilities; stigma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized / psychology*
  • Female
  • Feminism
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / diagnosis
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology*
  • Mothers
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nurses
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Stigma
  • Stereotyping*