"Why not have fun?": peers make sense of an inclusive high school program.

  • Srikala Naraian
  • Published 2010 in Intellectual and developmental disabilities

Abstract

Including students with significant disabilities at the high school level has been a subject of increasing research in recent years. This study explores the experiences of a high school student with significant disabilities, Michael, through the narratives of his peers. Participant observation in the building indicated that Michael remained on the periphery of mainstream school experiences as his peers worked with an institutional narrative that was predicated on normative expectations of all students. Using data from interviews, the article investigates how Michael's peers made sense of the process of inclusion that was implemented within this building. It documents the practical constructions of students as they used various elements of the normative discourse within the building to fashion their own interpretations of significant disability. These candid student commentaries retained a persistent focus on the extent to which Michael's program addressed (or failed to address) his fun-loving disposition while remaining critical of the rationale behind the practices it supported. As the data showed, peers' notions of fun for Michael were deeply intertwined with the opportunities for participation made available to him and the critical necessity for social interaction with his peers.

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