The field of autism interventions, as well as advice given to parents on educating children with autism spectrum disorders, is characterized by competing claims and controversy. This article compares two events targeted at parents, both of which were staged on the same weekend in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. One centered on applied behavioral analysis, holding out the promise of potential normalization for children with autism and their families. The other, mobilizing civil rights rhetoric, pushed for the full educational inclusion of all children with disabilities. This article investigates the assumptions underlying these varied positions and assesses some of the ways in which parents, especially mothers, make sense of and situationally negotiate these often emotionally charged claims and counter-claims.
Aspects of Maternal Pedagogy in Australia
A society whose values produce autism so perfectly as its excluded other does not deserve to survive; nor will it. —Alan Kirby, Digimodernism An Autistic Cinema Assemblage This article sets out a proposition for an autistic cinema assemblage, what
For an Anthropology of Cognitive Disability
Patrick McKearney and Tyler Zoanni
cognitive differences such as dementia, autism and brain injury that can be disabling in certain social settings. We do not take these categorizations as neutral descriptors of a fixed reality. Instead, following the Social Model, we demonstrate them to be
Autism spectrum conditions represent a broad category of behavioural, cognitive and neurological atypicalities. The difficulties experienced by people on the autism spectrum with regards to their emotional awareness, regulation, expression and interpretation are often mentioned in literature – and regarded by autistic people themselves – as salient features of the condition. The primary aim of my research is to help deepen our understanding of these difficulties, in order to gain a subtler appreciation of what 'being autistic' actually means. An ethnographic focus on emotional experiences in autism promises to introduce a new, unique pathway toward a clearer understanding of a condition too often thought to be unintelligible. In this article, I argue that insofar as autistic people may experience difficulties in discerning, managing or communicating their emotions, these difficulties mainly stand to reflect and allude to their unique positions within a complex network of connections: social, cultural and neurological.
Legitimating symbols in the debate over immunization and autism
Throughout the debate in the United States Congress over whether vaccines cause autism, legitimizing symbols that index cultural values have played a prominent role in the establishment of credibility. While both sides sanctify the role of science in producing credibility, they draw on different images of what science is and where its legitimacy stems from. Those who favor the vaccine hypothesis frame science as a populist endeavor, the results of which are open to critique by all. Those against the vaccine hypothesis frame science as an elitist endeavor, the results of which may only be critiqued by fellow scientists. While both of these images derive their significance from the cultural history of the United States, they have a markedly different impact on the interpretation of evidence. From within the populist frame, personal experience and direct observation are highly valued. From within the elitist frame, epidemiological evidence trumps personal experience. Due to the incorporation of dueling images of science, the US debate over autism may be viewed as a debate between rival cultural values.
The Sociality of Children with Autism in Activities with Therapy Dogs and Other People
This article examines theories of sociality against ethnographically informed understandings of the sociality of children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) interacting with therapy dogs and other people. I explore from an occupational science and occupational therapy perspective how theories of human sociality inform our understanding of the ways in which a child's social engagement is supported during child-dog interactions; and how analysis of the data might problematize some theoretical assumptions about sociality, specifically, the primacy of language and theory of mind, and the 'humans only' position.
María y yo by Miguel and María Gallardo, Arrugas by Paco Roca and Una posibilidad entre mil by Cristina Durán and Miguel Ángel Giner Bou are contemporary Spanish graphic novels that can be considered pathographies. This article shows how they use the metaphor of the journey to deconstruct social representations and challenge preconceived ideas about autism, Alzheimer’s disease and cerebral palsy. By making readers travel to the unknown territory of differences and diseases, these works help them to discover and understand alterity. I also study how the authors use techniques specific to travel guides to explain these disorders, and interrogate the extent to which creating and reading those pathographies can have a curative dimension. This will lead to questioning the concept of the therapeutic journey.
Autistic Children and the Normativity of Play in Postwar France
In postwar France, the definition of play helped to situate the meaning of childhood in a manner that marginalized disabled children from the common understanding of childhood. Three thinkers—Françoise Dolto, Maud Mannoni, and Fernand Deligny—all advocated more nuanced and open definitions of play that allowed for the recognition of disabled children’s forms of play, which often operated outside of social norms. In their practices, each of these thinkers articulated new interpretations of play that expanded its meaning in social and therapeutic contexts. This recognition was important in questioning the isolation of disabled children, in identifying their belonging among other children, and in revealing the changing boundaries of definitions of childhood.
Towards an Ethics of Possibility
Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp
alliance with our subjects, before we stand in judgement of the moral worth of our interlocutors. Recent studies of autism continue this legacy of recuperating the humanity of those with cognitive difference. Anthropologists working in this area, for
Solomon draws on a study of children with autism and their therapy dogs to explore sociality as an interspecies phenomenon. Arguing that the interaction between children and dogs created alternative spaces where the children could enjoy relations with