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Conference 2001

Testimonies of resistance in learning disability history

Held on 5th December 2001 at The Open University, Milton Keynes

Morning session

Introduction to the day

Taking a stand against the odds
Dr Kelley Johnson

When we think about resistance we think of groups of people taking a stand against unfairness in things like housing, employment or health. And we think of people resisting together through self advocacy organisations or self help groups.
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Three generations of mothers with learning difficulties in Iceland
Rannveig Traustadottir

We know little about mothers with learning difficulties and their children, and no one knows how many they are. To learn more about them and their history I spent time with ten mothers with learning difficulties and talked to them about having children.
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Stereotyped behaviour: resistance by people with profound learning difficulties
Melanie Nind

A lot has been written about the stereotyped behaviour of people with learning difficulties, that is, behaviours such as rocking, hand-flapping and twiddling string. The behaviours are often seen as meaningless or harmful.
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(There is no video available for Mary Coventry's presentation)

A full life
Mary Coventry

I will be speaking about my work, hobbies and interests and my various achievements. I feel I have worked hard and achieved a lot in the last few years. I lived at home with my family first of all, but now I live more or less independently in a Group Home.
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"What they want - yes, but what we want - bugger us!"
Carlisle People First with Rohhss Chapman

People with learning difficulties have been treated badly over the years so some of our talk is about group members and what has happened in their lives. We think self-advocacy has helped change a lot of peoples' lives. It takes time for people to speak out; some people are frightened to and keep their feelings to themselves, but once you start you don't look back.
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There are bigger fish to fry
Louise Townson

I used to keep my feelings to myself
Elizabeth Harkness

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I'm going to turn it all around
Malcolm Eardley

I've been from pillar to post
Andy Docherty

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Afternoon session

(There is no video available for Pam Dale's presentation)

Assistance and resistance: making sense of inter-war caring
Pam Dale

This paper looks at care inside and outside of institutions. Patients and their families are important. What sort of care did they want? What sort of care did they get?
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Resistance and resilience issues for oral history in Iceland
Gudrun Stefansdottir

This paper tells the stories of three women with learning difficulties in Iceland. All of them were born before 1950 and lived in institutions for many years but are now living in the community.
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Weaving a tale
Marjorie Chappell

In this paper I will be talking about my life as a survivor, and the way I have defied the gloomy expectations of some of the doctors. My mother was told, when I was about three, that I would never sit, stand, walk or talk, and that I was blind, deaf and 'mental'.
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(There is no video available for Liz Tilley's presentation)

Resistance in Mencap's history
Elizabeth Tilley

Mencap's history has changed over time within a framework of resistance. However, the issues that members of the organisation have resisted have changed since the Society’s foundation in 1946, and it is of particular interest to see how and why these shifts have occurred. Read the full abstract

Contact us

About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

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