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Critical Autism Network

Introduction

 
The Critical Autism Network aims to develop a challenge to dominant understandings of autism as a neurological deficit, instead focusing on autism as an identity that is discursively produced within specific sociocultural contexts.

The network aims to:

  • develop the emerging field of critical autism studies, including documenting key issues across national contexts;
  • develop theory, refine conceptual issues and generate new understandings about autism that are not bounded by a strictly medicalised, deficit-led approach;
  • develop capacity by working with doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows;
  • create opportunities for dialogue with a wider audience across the five partner countries;
  • offer significant possibilities to produce knowledge and inform practice that affect people’s lives.

We take as a starting point valuing the skills and agency of people with autism and work to demonstrate the ways in which dominant assumptions do not fully account for the skills, ability and identity of people with autism. In contrast to the prevailing deficit construction of autism, which individualises people with autism, an abilities framework not only respects the complex personhood of autistic individuals but also reveals how the construction of autistic identities holds important insights for how to rethink ideas associated with ‘normality’ and (cognitive) difference.

The activities of the network have been funded by the Leverhulme Trust (IN-2014-035).