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Stigma and Bias

Parents with disability often experience attitudinal barriers, discrimination and misperceptions about their abilities. They may have to invest efforts into convincing other people they are capable of parenting and facing disapproval of their decision to parent (Families Commission, 2012). Parents may try to conceal their disability, not identify as having a disability, or may not use disability services due to the stigma associated with having a disability (Mirfin-Veitch, as cited in Families Commission, 2012).

The following short video from SANE Australia explores the impact of stigma in the media:

Real life impact of stigma in the media

Think about the following scenario and questions:

Sam (age 30) has been with her partner Qing (age 27) for four years. Sam works four days a week at a laundromat and Qing drives a delivery truck part-time. They live in a rental unit and have friendly neighbours. Sam and Qing have been talking about having a child for a few years and recently found out that Sam is pregnant with twins.


  • What are your initial thoughts about Sam and Qing having children?
  • What are your thoughts about Sam and Qing having children if Sam and Qing both have an intellectual impairment? Did your initial thoughts change? If so, why?
  • What are your values about people with disability who make a decision to have children? What about parents with disability who have children unplanned?
  • Are you aware of any bias you have towards parents with disability? How could you explore this further and address any bias you may have? 

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