ERIC Number: EJ1040335
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Oct
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 48
Autistic Expertise: A Critical Reflection on the Production of Knowledge in Autism Studies
Milton, Damian E. M.
Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, v18 n7 p794-802 Oct 2014
The field of autism studies is a highly disputed territory within which competing contradictory discourses abound. In this field, it is the voices and claims of autistic people regarding their own expertise in knowledge production concerning autism that is most recent in the debate, and traditionally the least attended to. In this article, I utilise the theories of Harry Collins and colleagues in order to reflect upon and conceptualise the various claims to knowledge production and expertise within the field of autism studies, from the perspective of an author who has been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. The notion that autistic people lack sociality is problematised, with the suggestion that autistic people are not well described by notions such as the "social brain", or as possessing "zero degrees of cognitive empathy". I then argue, however, that there is a qualitative difference in autistic sociality, and question to what extent such differences are of a biological or cultural nature, and to what extent interactional expertise can be gained by both parties in interactions between autistic and non-autistic people. In conclusion, I argue that autistic people have often become distrustful of researchers and their aims, and are frequently frozen out of the processes of knowledge production. Such a context results in a negative feedback spiral with further damage to the growth of interactional expertise between researchers and autistic people, and a breakdown in trust and communication leading to an increase in tension between stakeholder groups. The involvement of autistic scholars in research and improvements in participatory methods can thus be seen as a requirement, if social research in the field of autism is to claim ethical and epistemological integrity.
Descriptors: Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Knowledge Level, Expertise, Interpersonal Communication, Interpersonal Relationship, Socialization
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
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