Disabled children's childhood studies

Pencil drawing from Rachel, 10

Disabled children’s childhood studies is an emerging field of inquiry. The development of the field was driven through the coming together of a network of disabled children, and young people family members, disabled activists and allies.  Disabled children, young people and their families have often been excluded from research narratives.  Childhood studies has focused on children’s participation in research as active, independent social agents, and disabled children have too often been excluded from this agenda. Disability studies, on the other hand, has too often been driven by adult concerns and has failed to attend to the hopes, dreams and aspirations of disabled children outside of discussion of service provision.

Disabled children’s childhood studies seeks to be an ethical form of inquiry which responds to children and young people’s concerns and troubles normative notions of childhood and child development.The focus is on the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all young people, informed by the productive potential of disabled children and young people’s lives. Disabled children’s childhood studies stands in direct opposition to models of developmental psychology that have been used to exclude disabled children from the category of fully human.

Relevant material

Interventions in Disabled Childhood Studies is a new edited collection of 17 short, accessible and readable essays that emerged out of a two-day symposium held at the University of Sheffield in January 2020, co-organised by the Universities of Sheffield, Ghent, Glasgow, Lancaster and Leeds. Speakers included researchers and academics at varying stages of their careers; from doctoral, postdoctoral, early- and mid-career, to those contemplating their pensions.

Read the essays

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