2019 TASH Conference
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Each year, the TASH Conference brings together our constituents to share resources and success stories, learn about field-driven best practices, and network within a community engaged in shared values. The Conference is attended by passionate leaders, experts, and advocates from every corner of the disability community. Conference attendees are influential in their fields and communities, and play an important role in the provision of services and supports for the millions of individuals and organizations around the world; and include professors and researchers from leading institutions; those involved in local, state, and federal governments and public policy; special and general educators, and school administrators; self-advocates, adult service providers; students, family members, and many others.  This year’s conference theme, Building Diverse and Inclusive Communities, reminds us that equity, opportunity, and inclusion relies on the input of broad perspectives and experiences.

Friday, December 6 • 3:20pm - 4:10pm
Adult Attachment Style in Romantic Relationships for Adults with ID: A Framework Filling

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Attachment theory, first studied in the context of the infant-primary caregiver relationship, has provided a useful framework for understanding couple functioning. Interactions between infants and their caregivers help form internal working models of relationships that inform whether they view themselves as worthy of love as well as whether they perceive attachment figures as responsive, sensitive, and trustworthy (Bowlby, 1988). Attachment insecurity exists on a spectrum, with anxious attachment indicating fears of abandonment, relationship worry, and a magnified need for emotional reassurance from a romantic partner (Bartholomew et al., 1997). On the opposite end of the spectrum, avoidant attachment represents a discomfort with intimacy and relationship closeness, difficulty with self-disclosure and emotional vulnerability (Shaver & Mikulincer, 2012). Research has revealed that couples with secure attachment style may benefit from outcomes such as long lasting, high quality relationships characterized by substantial levels of trust, more positive emotions, and less conflict (Givertz, et al., 2013). Higher levels of avoidance and/or anxiety, however, are associated with lower levels of interpersonal trust, lower relationship quality, greater frequency of negative emotions and conflict, and loneliness in marriage (Givertz, et al., 2013). There are also fundamental differences in the way couples handle conflict based on individual attachment styles (Gouin et al., 2009). Therefore, attachment dynamics in couple relationships have provided vital information for therapists and a foundation for many therapy modalities. For those with intellectual disabilities (ID), romantic relationships are an extremely understudied topic (English, Tickle & dasNair, 2018) and attachment styles, relationship satisfaction, longevity, and quality are relatively ignored altogether (Fulford & Cobigo, 2018). Ignoring these areas of human development and functioning for adults with ID can have devastating impacts on their overall health and well-being. While adult attachment has been studied between individuals with disabilities and their parents (Schuengel et al., 2013), there is a need to develop a further understanding of this issue for couples and the impact it has on individual well-being and positive relationship experiences. This understanding can help couples with ID as well as family members and staff work more comprehensively with adults with ID. The current presentation will provide an overview of attachment theory, alongside a review of the unique factors that define couples with ID. Using a systemic perspective, this presentation will highlight a framework for applying an attachment-based understanding of couples with ID. This framework will be discussed and methods for applying this understanding to individuals and couples will be provided.

avatar for Rebecca Kammes

Rebecca Kammes

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Michigan State University

Friday December 6, 2019 3:20pm - 4:10pm
Meeting Room: Horse 5594 West Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85226

Attendees (38)

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