The enforcement of normalcy in schools and the disablement of families: unpacking master narratives on parental denial

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The notion that some parents may be ‘in denial’ is a pervasive theme in dominant discourses on families of children with disabilities. In this analytic essay, I deconstruct cultural and institutional master narratives on parental denial and discuss their role in the marginalization of students with disabilities in schools. I argue that discourses on parental denial privilege the perspectives of those in positions of power and control, leave the practice of ability-based segregation in schools unexamined, and discredit agency among families. Additionally, drawing from existing narrative-based research, I explore alternative interpretations of parents’ responses to their children’s differences, situating these in the framework of critical disability studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1221-1233
Number of pages13
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014



  • critical disability studies
  • families of children with disabilities
  • inclusive education
  • master narratives
  • parents’ perspectives
  • professional–family partnerships

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