Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Re‐Imagining Inclusion Through the Lens of Disabled Childhoods

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Abstract:  The purpose of this article is to contribute new insights to critical disability and disabled children’s childhood studies that center on the valuing of disabled children’s lives—a guiding purpose in the disability justice movement. We use published findings from the Inclusive Early Childhood Service System project, a longitudinal, institutional ethnography of the ways that families and children are organized around categories of disability, which show social inclusions and exclusions before and during the pandemic. These findings illuminate: (a) institutional flexibility for the purpose of social inclusion and isolation during the pandemic as a result of institutional organization; (b) the impact of institutional decisions around closures, remote programs, and support on families’ choices and self‐determination; and (3) the ways safety is differently applied and rationalized for disabled children allowing institutions to exclude disabled children and families. We use critical disability studies and disabled children’s childhood studies to interpret these findings and position the valuing of disabled children’s lives with a call for disability justice actions.

Keywords:  critical disability studies; disability justice; disabled children’s childhood studies; pandemic; social exclusion



© Alice-Simone Balter, Laura E. Feltham, Gillian Parekh, Patty Douglas, Kathryn Underwood, Tricia van Rhijn. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.