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Living on the Spectrum: Autism and Youth in Community

Living on the Spectrum: Autism and Youth in Community - Elizabeth Fein

Living on the Spectrum: Autism and Youth in Community


How youth on the autism spectrum negotiate the contested meanings of neurodiversity

Autism is a deeply contested condition. To some, it is a devastating disease; to others, it is a fundamental and valued aspect of the self. How do young people growing up with an autism spectrum diagnosis reconcile this conflict, in the context of their own developing identities?

While most of the research on Asperger's syndrome and related autism spectrum conditions has been conducted with individuals, this book draws on two years of ethnographic work in communities that bring people affected by these conditions together. It is thus well framed to begin to explore the possibilities of autistic culture, by looking at how those on the spectrum make sense of their condition through shared social practices in the places where they live, learn, work, play, and love.

Elizabeth Fein brings her many years of experience in both clinical psychology and psychological anthropology to analyze the connection between neuropsychological difference and culture. She argues that current medical models are ill equipped to make sense of autism spectrum conditions and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Instead, youths on the autism spectrum reach beyond medicine for their stories of difference and disorder, drawing on shared mythologies from popular culture and speculative fiction to conceptualize their experience of changing personhood.

In moving and persuasive prose, Living on the Spectrum illustrates that young people use these stories to pioneer more inclusive understandings of what makes us who we are.

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How youth on the autism spectrum negotiate the contested meanings of neurodiversity

Autism is a deeply contested condition. To some, it is a devastating disease; to others, it is a fundamental and valued aspect of the self. How do young people growing up with an autism spectrum diagnosis reconcile this conflict, in the context of their own developing identities?

While most of the research on Asperger's syndrome and related autism spectrum conditions has been conducted with individuals, this book draws on two years of ethnographic work in communities that bring people affected by these conditions together. It is thus well framed to begin to explore the possibilities of autistic culture, by looking at how those on the spectrum make sense of their condition through shared social practices in the places where they live, learn, work, play, and love.

Elizabeth Fein brings her many years of experience in both clinical psychology and psychological anthropology to analyze the connection between neuropsychological difference and culture. She argues that current medical models are ill equipped to make sense of autism spectrum conditions and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Instead, youths on the autism spectrum reach beyond medicine for their stories of difference and disorder, drawing on shared mythologies from popular culture and speculative fiction to conceptualize their experience of changing personhood.

In moving and persuasive prose, Living on the Spectrum illustrates that young people use these stories to pioneer more inclusive understandings of what makes us who we are.

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