Family Characteristics

The Turnbulls use four categories to describe the characteristics of the family as a whole:

For the most part, nurses are familiar with these categories from the nursing process learned in school. When working with the family of a child with special needs, it’s a good idea to gather relevant information about the family’s characteristics in a gradual manner. Even knowing that professionals have the best intentions and are there to assist the child, parents may feel that their privacy and autonomy has been stripped away.

In the first interaction with the family, focus on establishing a rapport, rather than extensive assessment of the family characteristics. In many cases, nurses are required to complete paperwork with specified information about family size and form. If possible, leave the more intrusive questions for the end of the first interview; it’s never a good idea to lead off with personal questions that may offend the parents or raise their defenses right away.


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Itís important to obtain complete detailed information about family characteristics during the initial assessment.
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