In this library post I report on the publication of a book entitled Autism: A new introduction to psychological theory and current debate. In the book, we feature contributions from members of the autistic community in each chapter. The contributing writers are:
- Jon Adams
- Harriet Axbey
- Kabie Brook
- James Cusack
- Martijn Dekker
- Claire Evans-Williams
- Ann Memmott
- Fergus Murray
- Anya Ustaszewski
- Daniel Wechsler
In addition, we include commission sketchnote artworks by Marisa Montaldi
In chapter 1 of the book we describe the inclusion of autistic contributors like this:
One question we grappled with while writing this book is, what right do we have as neurotypical researchers, without lived experience of autism, to write an authoritative text on autism? We couldn’t possibly write a book about the experience of autism, of course – but we are psychologists, and so we can try to write about psychological theories of autism. We hope it is legitimate for us to have a platform to present and discuss those theories, but we are very aware that there are many other ways to view autism. These include other disciplinary perspectives, but also – very importantly – autistic voices and experiences. We wanted to give space in our book for stakeholders to comment and reflect, providing a contrasting, critical perspective or enriching our academic content with personal experiences.
This leads to another big question – how to incorporate autistic voices without tokenism? In the context of this book, we have invited people to contribute by identifying a core theme within each chapter and asking an interested person to comment on that theme. Our goal is to include autistic contributors whose personal experience actively resonates with the topic of each chapter.
A final point to raise is that these written accounts from autistic people are not accessible to the very large proportion of the autistic community who aren’t able to read or write with confidence – young children and people with learning disabilities or limited language. In an attempt to represent these people, some of our contributors are autistic parents of autistic children, or autistic professionals who have day-to-day contact with autistic people who are less able to speak for themselves. Others had a profile in childhood which might then have been designated ‘severe autism’, but have acquired a lot of communication skills since that time.
If any readers would like to be able to similarly include community contributions in their writing, these template materials might be useful: