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Belonging (poster presentation)
Yi-Ting Shih, Newcastle University
For mothers with disabled children, feeling isolated, segregated or even stigmatised had been discussed by many researches. Instead of viewing mothers as passive receivers, this paper would like to view mothers as subjective agents who can construct their understandings and make their decisions. This paper will review some of the research and try to explore mothers' perspectives within the relationships or interactions by putting mothers with disabled children in the centre and consider what groups do mothers like to belong to or would rather keeping distance from. This paper will discuss relationships between mothers with their families, other mothers with non-disabled child, other mothers with disabled children, professionals, and other people. This paper would like to present mothers' perspectives about the relationships and actions they choose towards the circumstances they encountered. This paper would like to discuss issues such as being different, try to live an ordinary life, and expectations around a mother with a disabled child. For example, mothers felt it difficult to share their experiences even with their extended family members (Bower and Hayes, 1998). Though mothers claimed they are different but not that different and just have another different difficult from the mother next door (Todd and Jones, 2005), they might feel difficult when maternal exchanging. They felt they need to edit their stories for others (Landssman, 1998, Green, 2001,) or always be asked about silly questions about disability only. Mothers have different perspectives about the distances they would like to keep with other mothers with disabled child. Mothers expressed their great difficulties about their relationships with professionals. Even though they are the experts of taking care of their children, they do not belong to 'professionals'. However, sometimes they are expected to be professionals especially when the professionals do not have time to do it. Mothers also assessed by the criteria that even professionals feel hard to achieve, such as making sure the improvement of their child. For some mothers, they refuse to be semi-professionals but would like to be a 'mum' who is always there for their children. They preferred to leave the 'handicapped ' world to school things away from home (Todd and Jones, 2005). They often feel they are defined as 'the others' by others and be judged.
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