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Both Sides of the Table

Autoethnographies of Educators Learning and Teaching With/In [Dis]ability

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Edited By Philip Smith

Both Sides of the Table is a set of evocative, heartfelt, personal, and revealing stories, told by educators about how their experiences with disability, personally and in the lives of family members, has affected their understanding of disability. It uses disability studies and critical theory lenses to understand the autoethnographies of teachers and their personal relationships with disability. The book takes a beginning look at the meaning of autoethnography as a method of inquiry, as well as how it has been (and will be) applied to exploring disability and the role of education in creating and sustaining it. The title refers to the context in which educators find themselves in Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings for students with disabilities in schools. There, educators often sit on the other side of the table from people with disabilities, their families, and their allies. In these chapters, the authors assume roles that place them, literally, on both sides of IEP tables. They inscribe new meanings – of relationships, of disability, of schools, of what it means to be an educator and a learner. It is a proposal (or perhaps a gentle manifesto) for what research, education, disability, and a utopian revolutionary politics of social transformation could and should look like.
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Chapter 13: Being an Albee, by Lynn Albee

Extract

This chapter is about what it means to be an Albee. I will tell stories of my family, who take the social model to another level. There is something more powerful than having a label of autism, and that is having the label of being an Albee. And that is a very cool way to live life.

To be an Albee, you must be wild. You have to be ready for anything. When you hear about a crazy event, an Albee was most likely involved. We are a tight bunch who looks after each other with extreme devotion. The lines of Autism and Albee cross over and intertwine to the point that we cannot tell the difference between having a disability and being an Albee. Maybe we all have autism?

The Albee clan includes Big Dave and Big Lynn (my parents), me, Bill, David, and Jim (my brothers). My family moved from Chicago to Galena, Illinois fifteen years ago. My parents moved the 150 miles because the private school that Bill and I were attending at the time would not allow David to enroll in the school. The pastor of the church (affiliated with the school) told my mom that “there were special schools for kids like him.” My parents wanted the four of us to go to the same school. Since moving, we’ve racked up quite the life!

Since my brothers have grown up (and still live at home), the “Albee-ness” in the...

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