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New Voices in Iceland : From Peter Pan to an Adulthood with a Difference. Background Method Themes Discussion. Modes of Inquiry. Sample Interviews Interpretation. ?. ?. Two questions.

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New Voices in Iceland:From Peter Pan to an Adulthood with a Difference

  • Background

  • Method

  • Themes

  • Discussion

Dóra S. Bjarnason

Modes of inquiry
Modes of Inquiry

  • Sample

  • Interviews

  • Interpretation

Dóra S. Bjarnason

Two questions



Two questions

  • What do the young disabled adults, their parents, teachers and friends, believe hinders them most in pursuing their learning, work or participating in society as adults?

  • What are the young disabled peoples’ hopes and expectations for their future as adult members of society?

Dóra S. Bjarnason

  • Three “new” questions

  • What does it mean to be an adult with disabilities in Iceland?

  • How do young people see themselves reach that milestone when they have significant disabilities, and how do they negotiate adult status?

  • How is the adulthood achieved by young people with disabilities related to the parenting they receive, including parents’ actions, choices, social status and approach to social service bureaucracy? Does the role of parents’ influence vary according to the young person’s age, type of disability label and need for supports?

Dóra S. Bjarnason

Adulthood social construction
Adulthood – Social Construction

The status of adulthood is most often correctly assumed as part of a tacit exchange of complex information through the interactive elements of language, social context and cognitive interpretation of relevant information about age (e.g. the appearance, voice, size and so forth).”

Bates 1975

Dóra S. Bjarnason


Two roads and the social construction of adulthood with a difference:

  • Group A in the mainstream

  • Group C in the special world of disabled people

  • The Wasetland Group B in a limbo

Dóra S. Bjarnason

Parenting 2 & 3

Parenting 1

Parenting 4

Group B

Group A

Group B

All types of





school / class

  • Jump between

  • the two worlds

  • belonging to neither

  • Advocate and fatalistic

  • No friends or

  • “Hi-friends”

  • only.

Self advocates

Fatalistic / Accepting

Disabled friends only or paid friends/


Friends both disabled and non disabled

Difficult to accept adulthood as applying to self or struggle to get there by steeple-chase and sheer will

Reach adulthood slowly, but surely or die

With exceptions: They think of themselves as much younger

Dóra S. Bjarnason


1. What is the difference between the social construction of typical young adulthood and that of young disabled adulthood?

2. Is it possible to gain normative adult status if you have disabilities?

3.How do parents, professionals and the

youth’s wider social network help or

hinder their transition towards adulthood?

4. What are the roles and statuses available

to disabled adults?

Dóra S. Bjarnason

Three Dimentions of Adulthood

The Personal Dimension

The Cultural Dimention

The Familial Dimention

From: Ferguson, D. L. and Ferguson P. M. 1996 “Communicating Adulthood”.

In Topics of Language Disorders 16,3:52-67

Dóra S. Bjarnason

Allies and Gatekeepers

  • Parents

  • Teachers

  • Other Professionals and Staff

  • Friends

Dóra S. Bjarnason