Has the way society constructed their view of autism developed or changed since the 19th century?

Masters Thesis


CoomberSewell, J. 2022. Has the way society constructed their view of autism developed or changed since the 19th century? Masters Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Allied and Public Health Professions
AuthorsCoomberSewell, J.
TypeMasters Thesis
Qualification nameMaster of Science
Abstract

This thesis explores and identifies the changes in the perception of the societal impact of social inequality between autistics and non-autistics, largely through the way non-autistics (the majority) treat autistics (a growing minority). This is addressed via a naturalistic integrative literature review covering the 19th century to the present day.

The aim of this thesis is to address whether the development of autism diagnosis has changed the social construct of autism or whether autistics have changed it for themselves. Further, the impact, if any, that has been made on any disparity between the two groups will be addressed. The researcher personal positioning is that of a medically diagnosed autistic, from a largely autistic family.

The aims are achieved by addressing sub-themes and objectives including; whether the medical diagnosis of autism has developed or changed from the 19th Century to the present day; whether the way society has constructed its view of autism has developed or changed from the 19th Century to the present day; the influence of medical diagnosis and the societal construction of autism upon each other and the developmental impact of this; the extent to which the changing self-view of autistics has led to a greater sense of community and self-advocacy.

The research is undertaken through an interpretivist lens supported by certain pragmatic practices. The methodological approach is primarily that of integrative literature review incorporating snowballing; archival research has largely been prevented due to Covid-19. The primary findings of this research indicate that there have been significant development in diagnosis, legislation, and societal construction pertaining to and impacting upon autistic individuals. The study concludes that while the gaps in perception of autistics and non-autistics are narrowing and disparities are improving, there is some considerable way to go before an equitable social construction can exist, in which the role of autistic self-advocacy will be key.

Finally, the study determines that the interaction between all the investigated elements can be viewed as a closed loop with no one factor establishing dominance of influence.

KeywordsAutism; Non-autistics ; Social inequality ; Societal impact; 19th century to the present day; ASD
Year2022
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Deposited16 May 2022
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/9118q/has-the-way-society-constructed-their-view-of-autism-developed-or-changed-since-the-19th-century

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