Many of life’s experiences and challenges are unexpected and can affect a person at any stage of their development. Although many people have a carefully constructed blueprint of what course they want their life to take, various incidents and accidents can significantly impact their plans, life, and the lives of the people close to them. This essay will examine a challenging situation and discuss its effect on the cognitive, social-emotional, and human development of the affected person.
The Lot in Life Scenario
For the purposes of this assignment, the scenario is as follows: my 16-year-old son is paralyzed from the neck down and cannot breathe unassisted. He became quadriplegic after his younger brother, a 12-year-old, was playing with a gun and unintentionally shot him in the neck. The older boy spent several months in the hospital, adjusting to the condition, and will be released home in two months. He requires round-the-clock care for the rest of his life and a special wheelchair. However, I work nights and will not be able to provide him with the needed care during my work hours. Furthermore, the house the family currently lives in is not wheelchair accessible. Overall, the provided scenario affects all the family members as they become caregivers to a disabled adolescent.
Human Development Perspective
Before examining the situation, it is essential to discuss human development. According to United Nations (2021), it concerns “expanding the richness of human life.” Thus, human development aims to provide people with choices and opportunities to enhance their lives and those of their family and friends (United Nations, 2021). Overall, from the human development perspective, people have the freedom to decide what opportunities to take, what goals to pursue, and how to lead their lives.
Disability is widely discussed within the concept of human development. There are many models of disability, including medical capability approach, medical, social, and International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) (Mitra, 2017). However, becoming a caregiver is not as broadly examined with few research articles on how this role affects their development. From a human development perspective, the well-being and freedoms of a person with a disability are defined by “the interaction between the health deprivations, personal factors, resources, and the environment” (Mitra, 2017, p. 18). In this case, it can be argued that the quadriplegic teenager does not have many choices and opportunities as the family resources are sparse and need to be shared with at least one parent and a younger sibling. Thus, disability has a significant impact on one’s human development.
It can be argued that the discussed situation has a similar effect on the caregiver, as their prospects and choices are substantially impacted. In this case, parents’ opportunities and freedoms are affected by the responsibility of care for a disabled child. The caregiver’s resources and the environment are affected by the person they are caring for (Mitra, 2017, p. 18). Although their own health is not affected, the disability has a related effect on the person providing care. It should also be noted that a person can become a caregiver to a disabled adolescent in middle adulthood, the stage that psychologists define as “generativity versus stagnation” (Cherry, 2021). In this phase of development, people are focused on nurturing things that will outlast them, including children (Cherry, 2021). Overall, it can be stated that the development of a parent to a disabled child is affected by their responsibilities of care and the need to nurture their family.
Impact on Cognitive and Social-Emotional Development
Becoming a caregiver to a family member also has a significant effect on their cognitive and social-emotional development. According to Gérain and Zech (2019), caregivers are individuals with individual cognitions and emotions, and the responsibility of care for a disabled person has a meaningful impact. In this scenario, cognitive development is affected as the caregiver gains an understanding of the condition they were previously unaware of and how people can live it. They constantly need to pay attention to the changes in the physical and emotional state of the person dependent on them to provide them with high-quality care. Thus, the cognitive development of the individual giving care is positively affected as their cognitive skills are improved as a response to caring for another person.
Furthermore, the social-emotional development of caregivers is also influenced. It can be disputed that they have fewer opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with other people because they provide round-the-clock care. However, Gérain and Zech (2019) note that individuals attending support groups do not experience isolation and learn to process their emotions and prevent burnout. Thus, it can be concluded that caregivers’ social-emotional development largely depends on the presence or absence of an efficient support system. In the given scenario, the parent needs to find such a network to better address the new responsibility of care.
There are many research articles concerning the social-emotional development of caregivers and their experiences with burnout. For instance, Secinti, Yavuz, and Selcuk (2017, p. 1) examined “the level of feelings of burden in family caregivers of people with spinal cord injury.” Several questionnaires were employed to gather data for the study, with structural equation modeling employed to identify burnout predictors (Secinti, Yavuz & Selcuk, 2017). The research findings illustrate a correlation between feelings of burden and depression (Secinti, Yavuz & Selcuk, 2017). In the discussion section, the authors note that various social support systems can alleviate depressive symptoms and prevent burnout (Secinti, Yavuz & Selcuk, 2017). The article highlights the importance of access to a support system for family caregivers.
In summary, the afforded scenario describes becoming a caregiver to a quadriplegic teenager who requires round-the-clock care. This change substantially affects both the disabled adolescent and his family members. The freedoms and opportunities, cognition, and relationships of caregivers are influenced by the new responsibilities of care. Overall, it is recommended that the parent in the scenario seeks support systems for themselves and their disabled child to adjust to their new lives and responsibilities.
Cherry, K. (2021). Stages of human development of Erikson addresses development over time. Web.
Gérain, P., & Zech, E. (2019). Informal caregiver burnout? Development of a theoretical framework to understand the impact of caregiving. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1–13. Web.
Mitra, S. (2017). Disability, health and human development. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Secinti, E., Yavuz, H. M., & Selcuk, B. (2017). Feelings of burden among family caregivers of people with spinal cord injury in Turkey. Spinal Cord, 55(8), 782–787. Web.
United Nations. (2021). About human development. Web.