Emma Marie Forde is unschooling mom to two girls, Lily and Rosa. She’s also the founder of the website, rethinkingparenting.co.uk. Before having children, Emma was a clinical psychologist, a career that informed her choice to stay home with her own children and which eventually led her and her husband John to choose unschooling for their family.
In this episode, Emma and I have a great chat about the book, Re-Thinking Autism: Diagnosis, Identity and Equality.
Quote of the Week
“The contemporary cultural autism story told about people with the label drowns out all the other stories that could be told about them. Autism is a story but it is not the story.” ~ Katherine Runswick-Cole
Re-Thinking Autism: Diagnosis, Identity and Equality, edited by Katherine Runswick-Cole, Rebecca Mallett and Sami Timimi
In this collection of essays, the authors set out to challenge some of the ways in which autism is understood by looking through the lenses of the science of autism, the cultural life of autism, and the professional interventions or treatments of autism. They note that they are writing in the spirit of “openness, inquiry, and the desire to help improve people’s lives.”
The book has four specific aims, outlined in the introduction:
- To challenge the evidence base for biomedical models of autism.
- To explore the impact of the diagnosis on the lived experience of people so labeled.
- To offer a conceptual critique of the production, consumption and commodification of autism in the twenty-first century in a global context.
- To explore ideas for service provision and practice that move beyond a focus on the diagnosis.
As I read, I was really struck with the many parallels I saw between their questioning of society’s approach to children’s behaviour and unschooling parents questioning of society’s approach to children’s learning. Emma and I really enjoyed diving in and pondering the many interesting questions the authors raised.
I think one of my favourite questions comes from the essay, The Ethics and Consequences of Making Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnoses, by Saqib Latif:
“There is no dispute about the existence of ASD behaviours; instead the dispute is about whether these behaviours amount to a discrete naturally occurring category that the diagnostic label represents. Is it fair, necessary or useful to reduce down to a one-dimensional construct of ASD the evolving personality, experiences, diverse histories and contexts of a growing child with a highly plastic brain? Human behaviour involves social and moral dimensions, and cannot be understood without taking into consideration the values of that individual, their family and indeed their broader cultural milieu. One wonders, given that there is such a massive variation, whether it should be called a ‘disorder’ spectrum, or just a ‘human’ spectrum.”
Links to Things Mentioned in the Show
The book: Re-Thinking Autism: Diagnosis, Identity and Equality, edited by Katherine Runswick-Cole, Rebecca Mallett and Sami Timimi
Emma mentioned the book, The Myth of Autism: Medicalising Men’s and Boys’ Social and Emotional Experience (2010) by Sami Timimi, Brian McGabe and Neil Gardner
Pam’s blog post, about Unschooling and Critical Thinking
Anne Ohman’s essay, I Am What I Am
Katherine Runswick-Cole’s interview on The Radical Therapist podcast about her experience
Our book chat about Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined by Scott Barry Kaufman
Ginny Russell’s current research project is looking at the impact of diagnosis and labelling in relation to autism and the neurodiversity movement, and she’s quite welcoming of people getting in touch with her
Sami Timimi’s talk, Autism: Do Labels Help or Hinder? (YouTube)
Emma mentioned Theraplay
Emma’s website: Rethinking Parenting