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Elevator pitch

Not sure how long it would take to share this, but I think I actually am finding the plot! It seems to have moved a long way from virtual worlds and learning journey though.

My research examines why the metaphors of fight and struggle are so prevalent in the stories of those involved in supporting and caring for children and young people with diagnoses of Aspergers and HFA.

In approaching the question, at a personal level I bring a range of experiences from different parts of my life. In the 1970s and 80s, I was actively involved with people with disabilities as a community worker and social work team leader. During International Year of Disabled People, 1981, I was engaged in a number of projects including developing an access guide and information pack for people with disabilities in the local authority area where I was employed. My MSc research focused on those disability organisations that could be described as specialist local intermediary bodies, and examined the practices and philosophies of those made up only of other organisations, those with an individual membership of people with disabilities and those with both organisational and individual memberships. I recognised the importance of empowerment and in my social work role, I focused on ensuring my ‘clients’ had an opportunity to express their views as to what services would be helpful to them and how these might best be delivered, an innovatory approach at the time.

During the 1990s, I became a service user rather than a provider, as it became increasingly evident that my son’s challenging behaviour was due, at least in part, to his neuro-diversity. I learned about child mental health and special educational needs systems, and suffered the mortification of my son being suspended from school. I was able to use my professional skills to navigate the system and to access the support my son needed. I also became a service user in my own right, receiving support from the community mental health services. When the opportunity presented, I took the opportunity to share the knowledge I had gained with other parents by facilitating a support group.

My son is now an adult and I have been able to reflect on my experience and to view the services I was responsible for providing and the services I have received against the backcloth of changing models and understanding of disability. Now as a researcher, I am exploring the metaphor of fight and struggle as it occurs within the narratives of parents, professionals and others involved in the care and support of children and young people with diagnoses of Aspergers and HFA, and also looking at media content generated by parents and others and found in print and electronic form. These accounts are interpreted and understood through an understanding of the systems, discourses and models which influence and structure the experience of becoming a parent of a child on the autistic spectrum, a teacher of children on the spectrum, a health professional, or any other person involved in offering care and support to these children and young people.

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