Monday, 25 June 2012

Researching the lives of disabled children and young people: are they any different from non-disabled children?

The vast majority of disabled children and young people in the western world live at home with their families, most attend mainstream schools, and disabled children have the same rights to inclusion and equal treatment as non-disabled children and young people. Yet, they often remain left out – from generic children’s research, from policy-making about children’s services and, in their everyday lives, from inclusion in friendship groups and social and sporting activities.

So begins the editorial of the current special issue of Children & Society, dedicated to highlighting the views, experiences and opinions of disabled children and young people through the presentation of cutting-edge research and examination of current issues at policy level. Including the views of families affected by disability in mainstream research and literature is something that CRFR is keen to promote; it forms a central aim of the About Families project to support the development of evidence-based parenting services, and disability issues feature in research agendas across our work.

Considerable progress has been made in the last 20 years. The voices of disabled children and young people are increasingly included in research across a range of disciplines and the focus of research has shifted more recently to consider aspects of family functioning, relationships between families and professionals, transition to adulthood, identity, friendships and social lives. These topics feature in some of the papers included in the journal.  The publication of this special issue within a generic children’s journal marks an important achievement in itself – and we echo the editorial team when they express their hope that it won’t be necessary or appropriate to continue publishing work relating to disabled children in separate literature or within the confines of special issues. What this issue succeeds to do, and what has emerged from the About Families project is that the challenges, preferences and issues facing disabled children as they go through their lives remains largely the same as non-disabled children, albeit many disabled children face additional practical and social barriers to achieving their goals.

CRFR is delighted to welcome this special issue and congratulates everyone involved in its publication.

The contents include:
·         Editorial: Researching the Lives of Disabled Children - Kirsten Stalker
·         The challenge and challenging of Childhood Studies? Learning from disability studies and research with disabled children - Kay Tisdall
·         Theorising the lives of disabled children: How can disability theory help? - Nick Watson
·         Everyday segregation amongst disabled children and their peers: a qualitative longitudinal study in Norway - Borgunn Ytterhus
·         Understanding disabled childhoods: What can we learn from population studies? -  Eric Emerson
·         Rights of Disabled Children and their Families: a decade of policy change - Janet Read, Clare Blackburn and Nick Spencer
·         Working on well-being: researchers' experiences of a participative approach to understanding the subjective well-being of disabled young people - Bryony Beresford
·         Other Voices, Other Rooms: Reflections on talking to young men with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and their families about transition to adulthood - David Abbott
·         Disabled Children's Voices: The nature and role of future empirical enquiry - John Carpenter and Roy McConkey
·         Practice Piece: Sixth Sense: The Disabled Children and Young People's Participation Project - Rosemary Murray.

Access the special issue at: ‘The Everyday Lives of Disabled Children and Young People: New developments in research and policy’, Special issue: Children & Society, 26 (2012)

All papers from the ESRC seminar series which led to the special issue are available from:

Learn more about About Families at:

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