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Caring for children with mental retardation: The experiences of Vhavenda mothers
Caring for children with mental retardation at home requires great patience and understanding. Mothers often experience difficulties adjusting to the fact that their children are mentally retarded and that it cannot be cured. This study investigated the experiences of mothers caring for children with mental retardation. An exploratory research design was employed. Purposive sampling was used to select six mothers who cared for children with mental retardation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the mothers. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse the data. Children with mental retardation experienced communication problems, physical problems, poor health and had behavioural problems. The mothers encountered family challenges, emotional problems, school-related problems, social problems and financial problemsin caring for children with mental retardation. They also struggled to give care to their children with mental retardation and manage their families. Resources were lacking and qualified professionals were scarce. The mothers need emotional support from members of their families, friends and members of the community. There is need to implement health support programmes targeted at addressing the challenges faced by mothers who care for their children with mental retardation.