Faculty Publications

Title

"School's not really a place for reading": A research synthesis of the literate lives of students with severe disabilities

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Caring relationship, Intimacy, Literacy, Severe mental retardation

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps

Volume

26

Issue

1

First Page

1

Last Page

12

Abstract

Developmental and connectionist research describing a student's development of competent reading and writing skills commonly evokes the image of a normative ladder to literacy. Each rung of the ladder is believed to constitute certain sets of increasingly complex subskills. It is believed that cognitive mastery is required prior to the next step up the ladder. For people labeled with severe mental retardation, subskill mastery is often considered an intellectual impossibility. Hence, literacy is denied. In this research synthesis, however, we suggest that people with severe intellectual limitations can be understood as symbolic, and specific literacy skills can be supported. We use the term research synthesis to describe the textual weaving of two sources of understanding: (a) qualitative stories garnered from six students who were research participants and (b) published autobiographical and biographical stories by people with disabilities or their parents. These two sources of understanding underscore that a deeply caring relationship characterized by intimacy is of central importance when constructing as symbolic and literate a person labeled as having severe mental retardation. Copyright 2001 by The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps.

Original Publication Date

3-1-2001

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