Mothers as Advocates of Social Inclusion for Children With Communication Disorders

Mothers as Advocates of Social Inclusion for Children With Communication Disorders

Shalini Felicity Wickremesooriya
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4955-0.ch007
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Social inclusion is based on acceptance and belonging irrespective of any status, disability, or disadvantage. The ability to communicate empowers humans in their quest for social inclusion. However, children challenged by communication disorders struggle to form friendships and make inroads into social groups. Mothers, the primary caregivers in most instances, with their intimate knowledge of their children, are considered the best advocates. This study set out to identify strategies that mothers engage in to pave the way for successful social inclusion of children with communication disorders. An online survey was conducted in different geographical locations. Mothers with children aged 6-13 years who had received speech therapy or are currently receiving speech therapy were invited to participate. Data were analyzed using a mixed methods approach. Outcomes suggest that all mothers believe in social inclusion despite facing a range of inclusion and exclusionary practices. Undeterred by these responses, mothers advocate for social inclusion by engaging in a range of strategies.
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Although human needs and abilities may vary, all humans experience a deep need to forge associations with one another through social inclusion. Inclusion arises from the idea of valuing human beings and not merely tolerating them (Frazee, 2002). Each individual is considered to have a special place in the fabric of a diverse community which works at fostering active engagement (Taylor, 2007). Social inclusion for individuals with disabilities means that they must have “access to respect, access to a sense of oneself as a whole person and access to identity as a valued contributor, a bearer of rights, knowledge and power”, within communities (Frazee, 2002, p. 4). Communication, a basic human right, facilitates social inclusion. Friendships are formed, relationships are built, independence is gained, choices are made, emotions are expressed, and learning is achieved through communication (Jones, 2002). Children with communication disorders are challenged by this task and require advocacy to equalize the power base. Mothers, usually the parent who spends the most time with children, are in a unique position to engage in advocacy for social inclusion (Ewles, Clifford, and Minnes, 2014). As children observe their mothers and become partners, they learn the art of self-advocacy (Knight and Oliver, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Inclusion: Including all persons regardless of any dividing factors to the social fabric of life. There are various types of inclusion: full, partial, and mainstreaming. It is a process that requires deliberate actions.

Online Surveys: A low-cost data collection mode that can be utilized when considering dispersed populations.

Self-Advocacy: Speaking up for one’s self.

Advocacy: The act of speaking up for others.

Mixed Methods Approach: A method of data analysis that enables viewing information from quantitative and qualitative perspectives.

Social Model of Disability: First introduced in 1976, the model seeks to place responsibility on society to enable inclusion and to actively engage in eradicating barriers that subscribe to exclusion of people with disabilities.

Communication Disorders: A condition that is characterized by the inability to use a communication medium to successfully convey thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc. to others.

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