Edited By Curt Dudley-Marling and Alex Gurn
14 Living on the Edge of the Normal Curve: “It’s Like a Smack in the Head” - Bernadette Macartney 205
Introduction The construction and privileging of the “norm” through medical and (special) education knowledge and practices deny children with disabilities access to many life opportunities that “normal” children and families receive as a matter of routine. Normalising discourses, and the disciplinary mechanisms such as sur- veillance, diagnosis, and the sorting of people into the categories of normal/not normal in education and society limit the opportunities of children with dis- abilities and their families to contribute, participate, learn, achieve, and feel good about themselves. This chapter presents and explores the processes and effects of being labeled as disabled —and therefore “not normal”—on the experiences, opportunities and lives of two young children, Maggie-Rose and Clare, and their families living in Aotearoa, New Zealand. In response to this case study, I suggest that we must consciously identify, challenge and reject, in all forms, a worldview of “disability,” “difference,” and “diversity” as deviations from “the norm.” As an emancipatory alternative to normalising deﬁcit discourses I advocate a socio- cultural and rights orientation to education and diversity. Narrative and the Importance of Context One of the hallmarks of a medicalised, normalising discourse of disability is its commitment to decontextualising and minimising the importance and value of FOURTEEN Living on the Edge of the Normal Curve: “It’s Like a Smack in the Head” Bernadette Macartney 206 Bernadette Macartney the identities, relationships and experiences of children with disabilities and their families. Identity and experience are treated as irrelevant through an expert dis- course that assumes...
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