Thought it was about time I posted a catch up on what I am actually doing!
The focus of my DPhil is now the learning journeys of the various participants involved in the support and care of children and young people on the autistic spectrum. There are many different people involved from parents and carers to support staff in schools and residential establishments to education, health and social service professionals – and probably a few others as well. Although there is a notion of partnership in the provision of care and support, this partnership can be uneven because of the different levels and types of expertise different partners bring to the table, the way this expertise is or is not valued by other partners and the relative power of the different partners in providing access to resources.
I am planning to focus specifically on learning – which in practice means how people develop knowledge and expertise about autistic spectrum conditions/disorders (the terminology is currently in flux).
I have written an outline of what I hope to cover in my study and am in the process of re-drafting and getting this into a format appropriate for applying for the appropriate ethical clearances.
Another strand I am working on at the moment is trying to clarify what I understand by learning and which learning theories and ideas inform my understanding. This exploration has taken me through formal and informal learning, situated learning, communities of practice and currently metaphors of learning, as well as along a number of interesting side turnings. I have read lots of interesting stuff and am slowly learning to sift out the things that have less relevance to my proposed study, however interesting they may be. Other posts in this blog summarise some of those explorations.
The other area I am beginning to explore is that of how disability is seen by society and the effect of disability on a family. This is not a major focus for me, but there is a fair bit of evidence showing that families with a disabled member are disadvantaged in lots of different ways and there is other evidence pointing to people with disabilities forming an underclass. If it can be shown that parents caring for children and young people on the spectrum have a great deal of knowledge and expertise in a number of different areas, this might challenge the power structure and also empower parents.
At the moment it feels as though there are a lot of different threads in something of a disarray and my task is to try to identify them and put them in some sort of order so that I can progress. A bit like sorting out lace bobbins and threads after the cat has knocked the lace pillow on the floor yet again. I’ll be more than happy if I can get these threads organised and begin to make something of them.