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Constructing the (M)other

Narratives of Disability, Motherhood, and the Politics of «Normal»


Edited By Priya Lalvani

Constructing the (M)other is a collection of personal narratives about motherhood in the context of a society in which disability holds a stigmatized position. From multiple vantage points, these autoethnographies reveal how ableist beliefs about disability are institutionally upheld and reified. Collectively they seek to call attention to a patriarchal surveillance of mothering, challenge the trope of the good mother, and dismantle the constructed hierarchy of acceptable children. The stories contained in this volume are counter-narratives of resistance—they are the devices through which mothers push back. Rejecting notions of the otherness of their children, in these essays, mothers negotiate their identities and claim access to the category of normative motherhood. Readers are likely to experience dissonance, have their assumptions about disability challenged, and find their parameters of normalcy transformed.

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Chapter Three: Selves-Advocacy and the Meeting Space (Erin McCloskey)


chapter 3

Selves-Advocacy and the Meeting Space

Erin McCloskey

We walk into the meeting space and everyone else is already there, settled and casually chatting. Two empty seats are on the opposite side of the long oval table, and my son, Wyatt, and I make our way to the chairs, undoing our winter coats on this particularly frigid January day. Dr. Rich1, the special education administrator running this meeting, and the only stranger in the room, stands and points at the empty chairs with a smile. The door closes behind us. Wyatt and I fall into the tall, cushioned office chairs that move with us, rolling back and reclining under our body weight. I notice that my fourteen-year-old Autistic2 son has that school picture smile on his face; not a natural state of happiness but rather a performance for the setting, and I become aware that I am wearing that smile too. I realize the other adults in the room are trying to put us at ease. I remember being the special education teacher in the room and trying to accomplish this same feat.

There is life-work that we do every day and then there are those moments where we get some idea about how we’re doing with this work. This meeting is one of those touchstone moments when I hope the Autistic pride and self-advocacy skills I worked to instill in my son would shield him from the medicalized perspective people...

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