cover of book
by Allison C. Carey, Pamela Block and Richard Scotch
Temple University Press, 2020
Cloth: 978-1-4399-1632-2 | Paper: 978-1-4399-1633-9 | eISBN: 978-1-4399-1634-6
Library of Congress Classification HQ759.913
Dewey Decimal Classification 649.15


Parents of children with disabilities often situate their activism as a means of improving the world for their child. However, some disabled activists perceive parental activism as working against the independence and dignity of people with disabilities. This thorny relationship is at the heart of the groundbreaking Allies and Obstacles.

The authors chronicle parents’ path-breaking advocacy in arenas such as the right to education and to liberty via deinstitutionalization as well as how they engaged in legal and political advocacy. Allies and Obstacles provides a macro analysis of parent activism using a social movement perspective to reveal and analyze the complex—and often tense—relationship of parents to disability rights organizations and activism. 

The authors look at organizational and individual narratives using four case studies that focus on intellectual disability, psychiatric diagnoses, autism, and a broad range of physical disabilities including cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. These cases explore the specific ways in which activism developed among parents and people with disabilities, as well as the points of alliance and the key points of contestation. Ultimately, Allies and Obstacles develops new insights into disability activism, policy, and the family.

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