People's actions and the language that they use show their position on a particular view. Therefore, to understand a person's views they must be understood within their society as the decisions people make and the views they hold are influenced by their society. An individual's outlook on life is deeply rooted historically, socially and culturally and is modified depending on events and structural practices.

Literature discussing the social positions of different groups in society suggests that people with learning disabilities are in a weak social position. It further suggests that people with learning disabilities struggle to reject the roles assigned to them and find it difficult to challenge power exercised upon them by professionals. However, in my doctoral study, I found that this was not entirely the case.


The young people in my study were able to communicate their views during their transition meeting. The young people demonstrated that they already had the skills and the intrinsic motivation to communicate their thoughts, feelings and aspirations. Within the research context, they were assertive and demonstrated the ability and desire to empower themselves, through the introduction of topics and their control over the pacing of the sessions.

The young people were meaningfully included in their transition meeting when other stakeholders modified their communication by: reducing the number of words they used; using less complex vocabulary; or by using visual support.

Even though the young people challenged their social position during their transition meeting, it was evident that the transition social worker held the most privileged social position. The transition social worker was considered to have the most valued capital as she was responsible for service funding and also had the network of contacts for available services.