We have reached a crisis in special education where theorising has at best proved inadequate for understanding individuals’ experiences and at worst has been alienating because it has made them, not participating subjects, but objects upon which research is done. Researchers seem unable to shake off the ‘methodological individualism’ inherent in positivist social research (Oliver, 1992a:107) and consequently, there have been many calls over the last fifteen years or so for research in special education which is more sensitive to the experience of learning difficulties (Schindele, 1985; Clough and Barton, 1995).