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Disability and identity: the applicability of identity development models to individuals with disability

24 July 1998


Two current models of identity development, the Raciat/Cultural Identity Development model (Sue & Sue, 1990) and the Social Identity Theory (Hogg &
Abrams, 1988; Tajfel, 1982; Tajfel & Turner, 1979), were considered to describe
identity development for individuals with disability. These models, while descriptive of some individuals with disability, have a number of limitations in their applicability. These limitations can be summarized as follows: 1) they presume existence and access to "like" community and 2) they presume a choice to disclose. In addition, these theories do not address: 1) parallel processes for parents and children with disabilities; 2) functional limitations of individuals with disabilities; or 3) early childhood identity development. Future models should incorporate these issues. More research is clearly needed in this area to facilitate the development of identity models for individuals with disability.


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