Stories from the Field

In some research news, I recently got an “ethics variation” to increase the age of the young person involved to 30. Now I can interview anyone where the young person living with severe intellectual disabilities that they support is aged between 18 and 30. I had been contacted by several parents where the young person was older than 25, but the issues remained substantially similar in terms of exercising legal decision-making. This will open up the field a little more and ensure fewer people who want to participate and share their stories with me are excluded!

Daelle and her assistant, Bear, about to have coffee before heading off to our interview.

In other research news, Daelle’s support worker was sick last week and she came along with me to an interview! Luckily the participants were very warm and welcoming and enjoyed her company. The venue was wheelchair accessible and Daelle enjoyed the day out on the research trail!

Looking for people to interview!

Do you support a young person (18-25) living with severe intellectual disabilities? Do you live in Queensland? Want to share your experiences about the legal and administrative process of becoming an adult with me?

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

I’m talking to people about their experiences with legal and administrative decision making with and for young people living with severe intellectual disabilities as they become adults in Queensland. It’s a project near to my heart and has been inspired by my own life and experiences as a parent of someone living with profound disabilities becoming an adult. Find out more about being interviewed as part of the project here.

About the Researcher

Michelle (1)Michelle King is completing a PhD in law at the Australian Health Law Research Centre at QUT. Her work is about legal and administrative decision-making as people who have severe and profound intellectual disabilities transition to adulthood in Australia. Michelle has worked for many years in the University teaching and research sector. She is a lawyer and a sociologist interested in how law works in people’s lives. She has three children, and is also an advocate and decision maker/supporter of her 20 year old daughter, Daelle, who lives with severe and profound disabilities.

You can contact her by email at

The Transition to Adulthood Project


The transition to adulthood of people with severe intellectual disabilities is not well researched or understood. This research expands our understanding of the transition to adulthood as a social and legal construct by exploring and theorising the lived experience of people with severe intellectual impairments and their supporters, using Queensland as a case study. Examining the lived experience of people with severe intellectual disabilities allows us to bring less visible issues of adulthood, citizenship, capacity and inclusion into focus. The research places these shared understandings within theoretical landscapes of personhood and citizenship, impairment and disability, medical and social models of disability, and ideas about difference and inclusion. By accounting for people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities, disability itself can be more honestly theorised and understood.

This research will explore these complex issues in theory and practice by conducting original theoretical and empirical research into the transition to adulthood of people with severe intellectual disabilities in the Australian legal context.  Twenty in-depth interviews will be conducted in Queensland with participant pairs consisting of a person with severe intellectual disabilities, and a person who supported (or made) their legal decisions during their transition to adulthood.  Interview participants will be recruited using snowball sampling, and interviews conducted and analysed using a constructivist grounded theory methodology.  The project will increase knowledge and understanding of the legal and administrative barriers and gateways faced by people with severe intellectual disabilities as they and their supporters navigate the regulatory systems of adulthood in Australia, and will inform our understanding of the often invisible social and legal assumptions made about adulthood, citizenship and disability in society.