Being bent over backward: A mother and teacher educator challenges the positioning of her daughter with disabilities

Leigh M. O'Brien


In this paper I draw on my life story as a teacher educator and the mother of a daughter with disabilities to trouble the identity that positions and labels her as, first and foremost in U.S. school settings, a "child with special needs." Drawing on a brief snippet from our profoundly interrelated lives (Hillyer, 1993), I argue that educators must reconsider the positioning of children who differ from the "norm," and stop labeling, and hence limiting, children. I end with recommendations for personal, educational, and societal policies and practices that would be less painful and limiting, and more inclusive, supportive, and ultimately democratic.


Disability; Special Education; Personal Narrative

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Copyright (c) 2006 Leigh M. O'Brien

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