- Recent reports have characterized the adult developmental service sector in Ontario as unresponsive to families’ needs and as involving many families in, or pushed towards, crisis. Robyn Saaltink, a PhD candidate from Queen’s University, seeks to investigate this situation from a meanings-oriented, or post-structuralist perspective. More specifically, Robyn aims to describe adult developmental disability discourse in Ontario to explain mothers’ experiences caring for an adult child with a developmental disability in light of available understandings of developmental disability. With the support of MAPS funding, family members from 8 families seeking adult developmental services under the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, (SIPDDA) 2008 in Ontario were interviewed. Participants included ten parents, one adult diagnosed with a developmental disability, two siblings, and one mother’s live in partner. Seven providers of formal support were also interviewed. For this dissertation, a discourse analysis on transcripts from interviews with family members, SIPDDA policy and policy related documents and Legislative Assembly of Ontario Select Committee on Developmental Services transcripts was conducted. To date, the findings suggest that developmental disability discourse (re)produces adults with disabilities as unique individuals who are different than normal adults but deserving of normative outcomes and experiences. Although contested at times by mothers, this dominant understanding of developmental disability interacts with pervasive conceptions of family and motherhood to justify limited entitlements for adults with disabilities and to intensify mothering practices and expectations.
- Robyn Saaltink is conducting this research as her PhD thesis in Sociology at Queen’s University.