Exploring how the diagnostic process stratifies children with intellectual disability navigating the service system in Ontario, Canada [2020]

Children with intellectual disability experience a higher prevalence of dental disease, obesity, challenging behaviours, and mental health disorders compared to children without intellectual disability. Children with intellectual disability concurrently face health and social service navigational barriers that are associated with unresolved health needs and hospital admissions, and parent burnout and employment interruptions. In this study, we explored the knowledge gap of how carers and governmental agencies, providing services, understand intellectual disability using discourse analysis, and a theoretical framework applying Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of the rhizome and stratification. We found that children with intellectual disability were stratified into eligible or ineligible service recipients through the diagnostic process that prioritized specified characteristics. Carers did not perceive that their children’s unique characteristics and needs were accounted for within the diagnostic process and expressed feelings of being dismissed by clinicians and providers in decision-making about priority needs and services.

Anna Don, Patrick O’Byrne
Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, September 10, 2020