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This chapter draws on interviews with our sons, as well as observation and reflection that we are able to contribute as mothers of students with a disability. Each of our families has a boy of school age who experiences sensory and physical challenges, and each of our families has experienced difficulties obtaining a diagnosis, encountered misbelief and rejection of their experiences by professionals and extended family regarding the diagnoses of dyspraxia in one case, and Asperger syndrome and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the second case. Our children have faced exclusion, negativity and misunderstanding, and the need for parental advocacy has been important. These elements connect to a common theme of stoicism on the part of both our sons and ourselves, and a constant questioning of what “normal” means for us.

The experiences are authentic and we allow much of the student voice to speak without interruption. The narratives are both powerful and yet are also the ordinary, lived experiences representing many families from New Zealand, Australia, and the wider world. If the stories are hard to hear it is because they share experiences that are in conflict with the espoused commitments to inclusion expressed in national policy, curriculum and school policy. They also challenge ideas about normativity.


School of Education

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Book Chapter

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