In recent policies, it is assumed that communities welcome the inclusion of young people with intellectual disability. However, little is known about perspectives of young people themselves. This article reports on research that sought to address this gap. Young people with intellectual disability living in three Australian small town communities participated in pictorial mapping and photo-rich methods to explore belonging and exclusion and links between these. Young people’s feelings of comfort and safety with local spaces and people were important for their sense of belonging. Emplaced relationships with family and some friends were key to strong belonging, as were positive attachments to disability support workers and spaces. Social exclusion, either from particular places or more generally, was keenly felt. Young people’s confidence, willingness to enter social spaces and relationships were magnified by ways that systems responded to their impairment, at worst fracturing their sense of feeling welcome and included.

Sally Robinson, Malcolm Hill, Karen R Fisher, Anne Graham
Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, March 27, 2018