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What is autism really? The multiple realities of autism in practice

Haddock, E. C. (2020) What is autism really? The multiple realities of autism in practice. Doctoral thesis (EdD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis aims to examine how we can involve autistics in research, policy making and as active participants in decisions which impact their lives. It will consider the reality of the condition of autism and how this is presented through a range of facets: medically, academically, and educationally; specifically focusing on the diametric portrayal of autism as beatified gods and a demonised disability. It will also use the teachings of Gert Biesta (2008) to review the role of special education, compared to mainstream education and consider the similarities and differences in the purpose of education between these two settings. The epistemic injustices which are committed against autistics will be reviewed, why this occurs and the impact of this injustice upon the autistics and knowledge itself. In order to combat the looping effect of autism it is argued that a case study approach mitigates the epistemic injustice committed against autistics . These representations of autism are presented to an autistic adult himself who, whilst being autistic, is also the father to two autistic sons and works with young people with autism. In a unique approach, the autistic subject is positioned as an expert of their own condition and use their insights, my own professional observations as an active practitioner and a head teacher of two special needs schools; the impact of the perceptions of autism will be considered and the ways in which knowledge on autism is disseminated and how this impacts on the lives of the autistics themselves.

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