[READING NOTES] Conceptual Issues in Childhood and Disability

Integrating theories from childhood and disability studies

First, the paper exposes how children with disability were understood and conceptualized since the middle of the XXth century. Following Piaget's work on children's development in the 1970's and a psychological conception of children as passive in the 1950's, the medical and behaviorist model of disability prevailed. Born in the sixty's, the disability rights movement led to the birth of disability studies in the 1980's. In the 1990's, disability studies scholars challenged this essentialist point of view and developed the social model of disability, which still tend to impose a normative adult categorization of their experience. But the social model also reached its limits, as it mostly considered children as purely "subaltern", negating their diversity and cultures. The author also identifies 3 post-modernists social models of disability, taking into account children's agency and culture, with a tendency of reducing the structural issues. He proposes an affirmative approach to disability.

Four ways of treatment/assessment by professionals

About the affirmative model

About children's self-concept

Several studies have pointed out that children living with impairments had low self-esteem/concept. However, the author points out children have various ways to confront and challenge the negative stereotype and views imposing on them.

Post-modernism account of disability

"We can conclude from postmodern accounts in both childhood and disability studies that we need to examine further the oppressive barriers that both children and adults encounter in social spaces and that we cannot understand disabled children’s lives in isolation from the adults that they interact with. We can also conclude that we should not assume (as academics) that any approach to disabled children’s lives is superior to another."