Childhood experiences of disability and specialist provision in England, c. 1918-1970.
My research examines the lived impact of state policy-making and institutionalised care practices for people growing up with disabilities in mid-twentieth-century England. During this period, specialist schooling and professional care was being developed for increasing numbers of children, identified as ‘handicapped’ or ‘defective’ by virtue of being beyond ‘normal provision’. Innovatively, my research seeks to tell this story of professionalization and institutionalisation from the perspectives of children themselves. My project will examine the lived experiences of children growing up in specialist institutions. I then combine this archival evidence with an oral history project which will explore people's experiences of transitioning into specialist institutions and residential schooling. Weaving together archival evidence and oral history testimonies, people’s reflections on how they thought of their identity – as disabled or otherwise – and how this changed across their life course will further reveal the impact of specialist provision.