This book presents a unique account of social myths about autism and how these have shaped the lives of people on the autism spectrum. It offers the first in-depth exploration of the history of attitudes and beliefs about autism that incorporates the perspectives of individuals on the spectrum themselves, working as co-constructors of autism research and future practice. From 'savant syndrome' to the conception that people with autism lack empathy, each chapter examines a different social myth - tracing its origins, highlighting the implications it has had for individuals on the spectrum and their families, debunking misconceptions and reconstructing the myth with recommendations for current and future practice on the basis of cutting-edge research. This book offers researchers, practitioners, individuals and families living with autism spectrum disorder a deeper, more accurate, more comprehensive understanding of the beliefs about the traits and abilities of individuals on the autism spectrum; with practical ways to re-shape these into more proactive and supportive practices, it offers an alternative view in which individuals on the spectrum are presumed to be competent and capable of constructing their own futures.
About the Authors:
Dr Bennett holds a PhD in Disability Studies from Flinders University. For his PhD he examined the life experiences of adults with Asperger syndrome. Specifically, their education, depression, employment, and intimate relationship experiences. He has lectured in Disability Studies at Griffith University, Queensland, and is an advocate for the rights of people on the autism spectrum. Dr Bennett plays an active role in directing research about the autism spectrum in Australia. He is an advisor for the Australian Government's AutismCRC, a project which aims to understand the needs of people on the autism spectrum in Australia. Dr Bennett has an exceptional research profile. He has been a guest speaker for the 2015 Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Brisbane and has also written articles and has been a blind reviewer for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Amanda Webster is passionate about creating inclusive communities where children on the spectrum are supported to become confident and self-efficacious adults. She is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wollongong and is recognised nationally for her work on the creation of effective school communities for students on the autism spectrum and their families in Australia. Amanda has worked closely with individuals on the autism spectrum and their families for nearly 30 years as a school leader, teacher, early intervention advisor, education consultant and behaviour analyst in the USA and Australia. She has served as the director of postgraduate autism programs at two universities and is currently a researcher at the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Autism.
Emma Goodall is passionate about helping families and schools to facilitate success for children on the spectrum. She is an autism author, researcher and consultant in South Australia and sits on the executive committees of the Australian Society for Autism Research and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. Emma develops, reviews and helps implement research-based policies and programs that enable students on the autism spectrum to flourish. She combines her professional and academic skills and knowledge with her lived experience of Asperger's to help people understand what it means to be on the autism spectrum and how different life is for those on and not on the spectrum.
Susannah Rowland is currently completing her PhD through the University of Wollongong. Through her research she hopes to build better understanding of the risk and protective factors of bullying for adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder, in mainstream secondary schools. Susannah has worked as an early childhood educator and director in Australia and Hong Kong, and as an early years co-ordinator in London. Her teaching experience includes working with children from diverse backgrounds, in a variety of educational settings. On graduation from her PhD, she aspires to work with families and individuals on the autism spectrum, providing support to assist them to strive towards goals and best outcomes.