Why is Special Education So Afraid of Disability Studies? Analyzing Attacks of Disdain and Distortion from Leaders in the Field

David J. Connor

Abstract


This article seeks to answer the question: In what ways do recent widespread and sustained critiques of Disability Studies reveal both the restrictiveness and vulnerabilities in the field of Special Education? Using a theoretical framework composed of Disability Studies in Education (DSE), Connor analyzes six recent articles by prominent scholars in the field of special education that contain the following elements: (1) a harsh critique of the social model of disability, frequently distorting and rejecting its contributions; (2) a defense of scientific knowledge as the “true” basis of special education; (3) a generalized tone of fear, anxiety, and anger. In addition to discussing these areas, Connor identifies and engages with the authors’ rationale articulated for rejecting the knowledge claims of DSE, providing evidence of contradiction within their own arguments. The article concludes that the concerted attack on Disability Studies and DSE ironically reveals how special education has lost significant ground in terms of being the sole source of knowledge about education and disability, and can no longer be seen as a “stand alone” legitimate field of study.


Keywords


Special Education Disability Studies

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