In March of 2010, an article by Nancy Bagatell appeared in a special issue of Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology (Vol 38, Issue 1).
It’s called From Cure to Community: Transforming Notions of Autism, and it’s solid. Here are some excerpts:
“The purpose of this article is to explore how individuals with autism are challenging the widely accepted biomedical views of autism and forging an autistic community. Here, I purposefully use the terms autistic and autistic community instead of person-first language (i.e., person with autism). This is the preferred language of the members.”
I like how she focuses on what adults with autism are doing/thinking, instead of what neuro-typicals think about people on the spectrum. I also like it that she goes ahead and says ‘autistic’.
Later in the article, Bagatell draws attention to the increasingly unwieldy range of the autism spectrum, and a trifecta of events which have helped to shape the autism community. Check it:
How is it possible that an autistic community has emerged? Given that, from a biomedical perspective, autism is characterized by significant social and communication deficits and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors, restricted interests and activities (American Psychiatric Association [APA] 1994), people with autism would seem to lack the skills essential for the establishment and maintenance of a community. The emergence of the autistic community can be linked to three historical trends: (1) the broadening of the autism spectrum to include HFA and AD; (2) the emergence of the disability rights movement and, specifically, the self-advocacy movement; and (3) the explosion of computer technology, specifically the Internet.
Good work, Nancy Bagatell. It’s really good to see the community pride trend documented in the scientific literature. Want to read the whole article? DO IT.