The thesis consists of five scientific articles as well as a framework and is to a great extent based on interviews with students with motor disabilities, their parents and school personnel.
The aim of the thesis is to study phenomena such as self-reliance, independence and autonomy, focusing on students of various ages and types of motor disabilities, in varying kinds of segregated and integrated school environments. The work is based on an interactional approach, and analyses how students' individual prerequisites interact with organizational and educational influences.
It was found that the more segregated school system often gave priority to therapy goals, in order to develop the student's independence, i.e. the ability to manage the practical side of life. The student's development of autonomy, defined as the ability to make one's own decisions and control one's own life, was thereby subordinated, since it required knowledge of reading, writing, information-seeking, critical examination, e.g. typical educational goals.
Students with less severe or less visible disabilities in integrated school systems, i. e. regular classes, were often treated in a way similar to their non-disabled peers. It was obvious that if the disability was ignored, it might lead to a minor disability developing into a significant handicap in the interaction with the surrounding school environment. The student's possibilities of influencing his/her situation were slight, and the autonomous development wa s limited. On the contrary, students with more severe disabilities in regular classes appeared to have better access to physical and educational adaptations. Their handicap thus decreased, and their opportunities of influencing their lives and developing autonomous attitudes increased.
A conclusion is that the student's possibilities of developing either independence or autonomy are not necessarily decided by whether or not the system is integrated or segregated, but rather by how the organization and the methods of co-operation are realized within each system.
Stockholm: Stockholm University , 1998. , 55 p.