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Managing turning-points and transitions in childhood and parenthood - insights from families with disabled children in Norway

Borgunn Ytterhus, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Co-author(s): Christian Wendelborg and Hege Lundeby


This paper explores turning points and transitions emerging in the life course of children with disabilities and their parents. Through a longitudinal study based on in depth interviews with parents (N=37 and N=36 in 1996/97, 2002/03 and 2006) we find that a change appears in disabled children's social participation and belonging at approximately eight years of age, for children with learning difficulties, and at approximately ten years of age for children with mobility difficulties. Most of the parents experience a "turning-point" that directs them into either marginal or inclusive positions in adulthood mostly because public services seems to be deeply rooted in the majorities way of living. The "transition" emerges at a time described as a stable period of life for families in general and illustrates parents' experiences of the importance of both "doing" and "being" in parenthood and childhood. Parents' experiences are strongly interwoven with the child's life, and the access or lack of access to services and relational responses. We can question the citizenship of these families.

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