Independent Living and Interpersonal Relations of Individuals with Intellectual Disability: the Perspective of Support Staff in Greece

By Lefkothea Kartasidou, Ioanna Dimitriadou, Elisavet Pavlidou and Panagiotis Varsamis.

Published by The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities

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During the last 20 years independent living and interpersonal relations, which are directly associated with the concept of quality of life of individuals with intellectual disability are being two of the most popular issues in the research and academic field of special education. However in Greece there is lack of research data and educational approaches on this issue. Main aim of the present study is to examine support staffs’ views and perspectives about independent living and interpersonal relations of individuals with intellectual disability, as they interact with them on a daily basis and confront a huge number of their problems. The research method used was a semi-structured interview consisting of open-ended questions, divided in two sections: (a) independent living, and (b) interpersonal relations. Participants were 30 support staff from three special education institutions in Thessaloniki (Greece) providing daily care and support to individuals with intellectual disability.
The results have shown that support staff believes that (a) individuals with intellectual disability in Greece lack of independent living skills, and face limited chances for independence, and that (b) social isolation and insufficient quality of life are being enhanced by poor interpersonal relations. The participants supported the view that Greek educational policy has to focus on the improvement of the above domains, since both independent living and interpersonal relations are important aspects of quality of life and self-determination. Although this research has some limitations i.e. regarding the number of participants, it is obvious that there is a necessity for further research and educational implementations in this particular field.

Keywords: Independent Living, Interpersonal Relations, Quality of Life, Self-determination, Intellectual Disability, Support Staff

The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp.59-73. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 360.958KB).

Dr. Lefkothea Kartasidou

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational and Social Policy, University of Macadonia, Thessaloniki, Greece

Dr. Lefkothea Kartasidou is Assistant Professor of Special Education at the Department of Educational and Social Policy (Thessaloniki, Greece). She has a Β.Α. in Preschool Education, Department of Preschool Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Ph.D. in Special Education, University of Cologne, Germany. She has worked as a music teacher in conservatoire and in Music High School in Greece and as a kindergartner in public schools and special schools.

Dr Ioanna Dimitriadou

PhD Student, Department of Educational and Social Policy, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece

She is special educator teacher and a Ph.d student in the field of Special Education at the Department of Educational and Social Policy at the University of Macedonia (Thessaloniki, Greece). She has a Β.Α. in special education, in the Department of Educational and Social Policy at the University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki and a Master degree in Special Education. She is working as a teacher in special education settings and has worked as a volunteer teacher in institutes for children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Greece.

Elisavet Pavlidou

Ph D Student, Department of Educational and Social Policy, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece

Elisavet Pavlidou is a Ph.D student in the field of special education at the Department of Educational and Social Policy at the University of Macedonia (Thessaloniki, Greece). She has a Β.Α. in lifelong learning, Department of Educational and Social Policy at the University of Macedonia Thessaloniki, Greece, and a Master degree in continuous education. She has worked as a scientific cooperator in European programs for the encouragement of employment and vocational training, as an educator in adult education, and in the administrative support of the postgraduate program in the Department of Educational and Social Policy at the University of Macedonia. She has also worked as a volunteer for the educational support of children with autism spectrum disorders.

Dr. Panagiotis Varsamis

Adjunct Lecturer, University of Macedonia, Greece

Dr. Panagiotis Varsamis is an Adjunct Lecturer for Special Education at the Department of Educational and Social Policy at the University of Macedonia (Thessaloniki, Greece). He has a B.A. in Physical Education and Sport, Department of Sports Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a Ph.D. in Special Physical Education, Department of Rehabilitation and Disabled Sport, and Department of Sport Didactic, Sports University of Cologne, Germany. He is certified Adult Educator for Sport Sciences and Special Education (National Center for Certification, Greece).