Before looking at the present study in more detail it is necessary to consider some of the general issues surrounding research on parents and teachers. The first point is that much of the research is rooted in the concerns of educationalists and inevitably involves institutional or school-based perspectives on a given question or issue. Ribbens and Kirkpatrick (2004) in commenting on research into families point out that most of it is concerned with publicly defined social policy issues or professionals’ concerns and little of it is from the perspective of family members themselves. A similar situation is found when the extensive literature on special needs education or for that matter education in general is examined. More recently, influences from social research and the introduction of approaches such as ‘grounded theory’ have emphasised the importance of researching issues from the perspective of the individual involved. In grounded theory for example it is argued that the researcher should have as few preconceived questions as possible in order to allow the participants to define what the issues are from their perspective. Another influence has been the disability rights movement, which has emphasised the importance of disabled people speaking for themselves. An issue that arises in looking at children with special needs or disabilities is to what degree their voices are heard and to what degree their parents’ voices are heard. The general tenet behind such approaches is that children and parents should be listened to and that their views should influence both research and practice.