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  4. "I do not have to travel to the temple" - Stories of becoming a parent of a child with a disability in Thailand

"I do not have to travel to the temple" - Stories of becoming a parent of a child with a disability in Thailand

Dr Michelle Proyer

I collected two life stories in Thailand. One story of a mother of a daughter with a learning disability and one of a father of a daughter with learning disability. The stories were told in Thai. My colleagues from a University in Thailand helped me translate them into English. Life stories are very personal and it is hard to translate them into another language. It was much easier to do it together as a team. This is not so common in research done in another country. Researchers often just look at the finished translation and do not know so much about the other language and culture in which they research. I think it is very important and that is what I would like to talk about.

I would also like to talk about what the two parents did before they had children. It was interesting to learn how they had been brought up and which kind of education they got. They also talked about what it meant for them to become a parent. And the feelings they had when they found out that their children had a disability. Both parents believe in Karma. This means they think that if you do something bad, something bad will happen to you in return. One of them thinks that her daughter has a disability because she tortured a cat when she was younger. The other one thinks that his daughter has been sent to him so that he becomes a better person. Explanations for disabilities are different in different countries. I will say something about the beliefs in Thailand.

The birth of their children changed the parents' lives a lot. I think it is important to know the culture and background of parents of children with disabilities to support them to understand what disability is about and which things pose barriers to the children. This will make it easier for the parents to understand that it is possible that their children can lead an independent life and that this is important.

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Dr Michelle Proyer - Michelle received her PhD in education from the University of Vienna, Austria in January 2015. Her main research interest covers transcultural comparative research at the intersection of inclusion and culture. She was involved in two international research projects in Thailand and Ethiopia. Currently, she works as a research associate at Kingston University London.

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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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