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Title: Special units for young people on the autistic spectrum in mainstream schools: sites of normalisation, abnormalisation, inclusion, and exclusion
Authors: Holt, Louise
Lea, Jennifer
Bowlby, Sophie
Keywords: Inclusive education
Autistic spectrum
Special educational needs
Young people
Mainstream schools
Special units
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: © Pion
Citation: HOLT, L., LEA, J. and BOWLBY, S., 2012. Special units for young people on the autistic spectrum in mainstream schools: sites of normalisation, abnormalisation, inclusion, and exclusion. Environment and Planning A, 44 (9), pp. 2191 - 2206.
Abstract: This paper explores the experiences of young people on the autistic spectrum (AS) who attend a special unit within a mainstream secondary school in England. The paper feeds into contemporary debates about the nature of inclusive schooling and, more broadly, special education. Young people on the AS have been largely neglected within these debates. The paper focuses upon processes of normalisation and abnormalisation to which the young people on the AS are subject, and how these are interconnected with inclusion and exclusion within school spaces. At times, the unit is a container for the abnormally behaving. However, processes of normalisation pervade the unit, attempting to rectify the deviant mind–body–emotions of the young people on the AS to enable their inclusion within the mainstream school. Normalisation is conceptualised as a set of sociospatially specific and contextual practices; norms emerge as they are enacted, and via a practical sense of the abnormal. Norms are sometimes reworked by the young people on the AS, whose association with the unit renders them a visible minority group. Thus, despite some problems, special units can promote genuine ‘inclusive’ education, in which norms circulating mainstream school spaces are transformed to accept mind–body–emotional differences.
Description: The definitive, peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in the journal, Environment and Planning A [© Pion].
Sponsor: This research was supported by the ESRC [grant: RES-062-23-1073].
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1068/a44456
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/13087
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/a44456
ISSN: 0308-518X
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Geography and Environment)

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