This article explores the different forms of professional guidance negotiated by mothers as they search for a primary school placement for their child diagnosed with autism. The intensely contested terrain of whether segregated or 'regular' classrooms would be 'better' for the child shapes the contours of both professional guidance and maternal decision-making. Interviews with 22 women whose children were about to start primary school in Sydney, Australia, allows an exploration of the ways women engage with or reject professional guidance, offered by paediatricians, psychologists, early intervention professionals, and education providers. Mothers frequently received conflicting professional guidance, and felt conflicted about their schooling decisions, especially when students are labelled 'borderline'. Overall, recent suggestions of a democratisation of autism expertise are not supported by this research, which underlines the need to analyse both the agency of mothers and the power differentials that continue to exist between families and experts.
- professional guidance