The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Research Briefs

Here is a selection of briefs--concise summaries of evidence-based, community-centric research--chosen with parents, disability professionals, and researchers in mind. Our briefs encompass a number of topics relating to disability and parenthood, including experiences of pregnancy among women with physical disabilities, self-advocacy tips for parents with disabilities, creating solid interventions for parents with mental illness and their families, and ensuring culturally competent and responsive care for parents with all disabilities.

A mother with a developmental disability holds her baby on her shoulder.


Adaptive Parenting Strategies Used by Mothers with Physical Disabilities Caring for Infants and Toddlers

Mothers with disabilities use a wide variety of adaptive strategies to make caring for their infants and toddlers easier, including home modifications, using or creating accessible baby-care equipment, accessing support and information, and getting support from other people. This brief, based on a qualitative study consisting of interviews with mothers with disabilities, summarizes some of these strategies.

Parents With and Without Disabilities: Demographics, Material Hardship, and Program Participation

Parents with disabilities and their children encounter significant economic hardships, including unstable housing, food insecurity, and difficulty paying their bills. This study outlines ways that researchers, policymakers, and program coordinators can develop programs and supports for low-income parents with disabilities and their families.

Behavioral and Cognitive Outcomes of Young Children in the United States Whose Mothers have Intellectual Disabilities

The children of mothers with intellectual disabilities are more likely to have behavioral and cognitive difficulties than their counterparts without intellectual disabilities. It is likely that systemic factors, like poverty, lower educational attainment, and discrimination, contribute to these disparities. This research summary outlines some of the struggles these families encounter and methods that policymakers can use to help address these inequities.

Postpartum Hospital Utilization among Massachusetts Women with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Women with intellectual and developmental disabilities experience significant reproductive health disparities compared to their counterparts without IDD, including pregnancy complications and adverse birth outcomes like pre-eclampsia, hemorrhages, and Cesarean sections. This brief summarizes research on hospital utilization among women with IDD, maternal health, and outcomes among newborn children of mothers with IDD.

Developing Peer Supports for Parents with Mental Illness

Parents with mental illnesses can create strong support networks for their peers. Learn about how to structure good peer-support programs in this research brief. 

Advocacy and Support Tips for Parents on the Autism Spectrum

Are you a parent on the autism spectrum? Here is a list of advocacy and support tips you can use to get support and fight for your rights as a parent.

Advice and Information for Professionals Working with Parents on the Autism Spectrum

Geared toward professionals working with parents on the autism spectrum, this guide outlines ways that medical practitioners, social workers, child welfare workers, and others who work with members of this population can accommodate their clients' needs. 

Advice and Facts for Mothers and Expecting Mothers with Intellectual Disabilities

If you are a parent with an intellectual disability, you may need help to get the care and support you need. This guide shares tips you can use to get help and fight for your rights. 

Advice for Professionals Working with Parents with Intellectual Disabilities

Professionals working with parents with intellectual disabilities can use this brief to learn strategies to communicate effectively, provide culturally competent support, and accommodate their clients' needs. 

Parents with Mental Illnesses and the Adoption and Safe Families Act

Learn about the rights of parents with mental illnesses, ways that professionals can support them, and efforts to expand their rights in this research brief. 

Disabled mother with child

Birth Outcomes among US Women with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Mothers with intellectual and developmental disabilities face significant health disparities before, during, and after childbirth. Learn more about about the birth outcomes of women with IDD in this policy brief. 

Creating the Capacity for Interventions for Parents with Mental Illness

This brief features information on creating and implementing interventions for parents with mental illness that encompass the entire family. 

Health of Parents with and without Disabilities

This summary includes information on the overall health of parents with disabilities in the United States compared to parents without disabilities. 

The Economic Status of Parents with Serious Mental Illness in the United States

This research brief contains information on the socioeconomic status of parents with mental illness in the United States. 

Self-Advocacy Tips for Pregnant Women with Physical Disabilities

This guide for women with physical disabilities contains advice from other women on how to best prepare for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. 

Pregnancy among Women with Physical Disabilities: Unmet Needs and Recommendations on Navigating Pregnancy

In this brief, find out about the challenges women with physical disabilities face when seeking perinatal care, and the recommendations that women with physical disabilities have offered to other women to navigate pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. 

Facilitators and Barriers to Breastfeeding among Mothers with Physical Disabilities in the United States

This brief highlights the factors that contribute to breastfeeding rates and the implications for policy and practice.

Recommendations for Clinicians Working with Pregnant Women with Physical Disabilities

This brief provides a number of tips that medical practitioners can use when working with mothers with physical disabilities. 

Obstetric Clinicians’ Experiences and Educational Preparation for Caring for Pregnant Women with Physical Disabilities: A Qualitative Study

Learn how medical practitioners learned how to work with pregnant women with physical disabilities in this research summary. 

National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities