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Chairs: Marjolijn Ketelaar and Prof. Carlo Schuengel
Contributors: Agnes Willemen, Jeanine Voorman, Johannes Verheijden, Ruud Wong Chung, Hedy van Oers, Karen van Meeteren, Mattijs Alsem (The Netherlands), Robin Mathea (USA), Reidun Jahnsen (Norway), Tanya Mishchuk (Ukraine), Richard Hastings (UK), and parents of children with disabilities.

The family context of children with disabilities enjoys increasing attention in practice, research, and the training of professionals. This reflects the growing recognition of the proximal and enduring importance of family life for children’s development and wellbeing. While this is generally true for all children, families of children with disabilities face challenges and opportunities that are different from that of families of typically developing children, and the child’s disability may have a huge impact on family members and their relationships. Moreover, there are large differences between families in how they adapt to challenging situations.
Over the past years, research on families of children with disabilities has grown considerably, and family-centered care is now widely accepted as best practice in pediatric services. However, while more and more family-focused interventions are being developed, little is known about what interventions are most effective for which families. Family-focused interventions often consist of various (combinations of) elements, which may be seen as specific or common ingredients. Little is known on working mechanisms; what are the active ingredients in interventions, how can these ingredients be fine-tuned to the individual needs and resources of particular families, and to what extent do interventions need to be tailored towards disabilities or other family characteristics?
In this preconference symposium a variety of family-focused interventions will be presented and discussed with a focus on unraveling working mechanisms, active ingredients and individual variation. An overarching theme will be to achieve more transparency into the components of interventions, what they do, and how their combination can be important. Aiming to take a next step in our understanding how to acknowledge the uniqueness and diversity of families, and how to empower families to take charge themselves of the adaptation to the disability; key principles of family-centered care!