UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

“You know, kids don’t come out in a cookie-cutter” : disability and other processes mothers of ‘labelled’ children negotiate in the educational playing field. Cohen, Leamore


This thesis examines how mothers of children labeled ‘learning disabled’ negotiate with educational professionals as advocates for their children. Previous scholarship has not adequately addressed the role that parents, particularly mothers of children labeled ‘learning disabled’ play in the education of their children. Through analyzing the ways in which these educational practices shape people’s experiences and identities, we can gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which labeling processes are experienced, managed, constructed, negotiated and/or resisted. This subject was explored through in-depth interviews with six mothers, using interviewing practices informed by standpoint methodology. My analysis follows two major themes. The first theme deals with the contradictory nature of psychoeducational assessments in the classrooms of the educational system. I demonstrate how psychoeducational assessments act as a set of rules, regulations and rights. I demonstrate how the mothers in my study used these as tools for empowerment and resistance to educational structures and discourses of normalcy. I also demonstrate the limitations of these texts to secure the educational interest and rights of children labeled ‘learning disabled’. The second theme deals with transformation processes. I ask, how do mothers of children labeled ‘learning disabled’ change as a result of negotiating their child or children’s ‘learning disability’. I demonstrate how being a parent of a child labeled ‘learning disabled’ is outside the sphere of ‘regular’ parenting and the sphere of the formal educational system and the economic, social and health-related consequences of such negotiations.

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