Emotion and relatedness as aspects of the identities of adolescents with severe learning disabilities: Contributions from ‘practice‐near’ social work research
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AbstractThis paper considers social and personal/individual approaches to researching identities of adolescents with severe learning disabilities; suggesting that vital components of emotionality and relatedness are largely missing from research and consequently from literature informing social care professionals. This leaves untapped, rich information and communication resources for research which may improve understandings of the experiences of a socially excluded group of young people. A psychosocial view of adolescent identity development, ‘subjectivation’, offers a way forward and a case study on ‘Billy’, drawn from a ‘practice‐near’ observational study, helps to illustrate this. Observation allows the researcher to be sensitive to the subtle ways in which identities of young people with severe learning disabilities are constructed, often with a sense of fragility and uncertainty. Continuities of experience between the young people and the rest of the adolescent community may be seen, but also the impact of living with impairment can be thought about in relation to the particular psychosocial circumstances of each young person. Knowledge of these processes enhances social work practice by encouraging workers to be sensitive to, and healthily curious about, the multiple ways in which identities of young people with severe learning disabilities are shaped in relationship with those around them and the wider social field.
Hingley-Jones, Helen (2013) Emotion and relatedness as aspects of the identities of adolescents with severe learning disabilities: Contributions from ‘practice‐near’ social work research. Child & Family Social Work, 18 (4). pp. 458-466. ISSN 1365-2206 (Electronic) 1356-7500 (Print)