Self-concept and facial appearance of individuals with an intellectual disability: A scoping review

Tiffany Chien, Paula S. Sterkenburg*, Charlotte Prahl, Nina Anderson, Annemieke Bos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

This paper looks at how self-concept is related to facial appearance. Very little information can be found on how persons with intellectual disabilities think and feel about their own facial appearance. In this review 19 articles on subject of self-concept in people with intellectual disabilities were included. Results show that self-concept of individuals with intellectual disabilities is affected by the relationships they have (positively and negatively). The perceptions of caregivers, peers and their awareness of stigma effects self-concept. How facial appearance affects the self-concept of persons with intellectual disabilities remains unclear and should be a focus of research in future. Abstract: Background The mental health and well-being of individuals can be positively affected by improving facial appearance through orthodontic treatment. However, research is limited on the relationship between facial appearance and self-concept of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Materials and methods This scoping review includes 19 articles and is aimed to examine the self-concept of individuals with intellectual disabilities and determine how the self-concept might be impacted by facial appearance. Furthermore, this review is exploratory in the way that an attempt was made to extract constructs that contribute to the self-concept of persons with intellectual disabilities. Results Unfortunately, no articles were found on how individuals with intellectual disabilities think about their own facial appearance. However, the articles on self-concept in persons with intellectual disabilities do mention some interesting facts: social comparisons lead to social stigma that can contribute negatively to the self-concept of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Also, the ability to communicate and express oneself can contribute to one's self-esteem. Furthermore, parents/caregivers often influence the concept of oneself. Moreover, an individual's relationship with their social environment defines their self-concept. Conclusion It is currently unknown how individuals with intellectual disabilities view their own facial appearance and whether their self-concept is influenced by their appearance. Questionnaires which address attitudes on facial appearance could provide a deeper understanding of the self-concept of individuals with intellectual disabilities and possibly make way for orthodontic treatment. However, caution is needed concerning changing the physical appearance of persons with intellectual disabilities. One should also battle stigma by encouraging the social inclusion of persons with intellectual disability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-97
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities
Volume48
Issue number2
Early online date15 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Keywords

  • aesthetics
  • facial appearance
  • intellectual disability
  • self-concept
  • self-esteem
  • social stigma

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