Skip to main content

Autism Research… Resistance was Futile

I don't want to offer too many details, as they are not yet important, but I am returning to autism-related research projects. For the last few months, I have been considering some questions about autism and I outlined some research concepts. Having thought I'd leave autism research behind when I started my new faculty post — which is focused on professional writing — I don't know why I felt compelled to outline autism research ideas, but I was.

Earlier this week, I was informed that I had received grant funding for an autism project related to writing. It was unexpected, to say the least, because it was a project I had only mentioned in broad outlines to faculty and administrators at my university. Still, I believe the project could have important implications for understanding autism, writing, and self-image.

So, I'm back to the topic I studied as a doctoral student: autism.

Because I have two research concepts outlined, my focus is now on completing those two projects by year's end (December 2012) and presenting my initial findings in the spring or summer of 2013. I am confident the research topics are worthy of publication, so I need to get down to the data collection this month.

I really did intend to focus on writing in general, and maybe some research into the rhetorical power of creative writing. But, the reality in academia is that you need a specialty to stay on the tenure track. While I would rather be a generalist, maybe that "generalist's breadth" will help me find new ways of thinking about autism and writing.

The reason I'm blogging about this is that I had become frustrated with the heat of autism debates, even when research was involved and the participants in the debates were/are academics. Tonight, I was skimming yet more heated arguments about a particular form of "writing" and autism. It can be disheartening, yet I have to admit that I fall on "one side or the other" of most debates about autism. I'm not sure you can research autism and not reach some rigid conclusions.

Why in the world would I want to conduct autism research knowing the unpleasant nature of the debates?

I'm asking myself that question and not coming up with a great answer. My only answer is that the questions I have deserve some attention and possible answers. (Granted, in research you rarely have definite answers, only likely answers based on statistics.) If I'm asking these questions, someone else likely has them, too. Maybe my research will be a small piece of something greater, or maybe it will simply reaffirm existing knowledge. Either way, I am compelled to seek data and develop conclusions.

So, resistance to research was futile. My mind couldn't resist pondering questions and seeking answers, especially about autism and writing.


  1. C.S., I look forward to following your research. Evidence backed by research is invaluable to me as a therapist, especially when the research is conducted by someone on the spectrum.


Post a Comment

Comments violating the policies of this blog will not be approved for posting. Language and content should be appropriate for all readers and maintain a polite tone. Thank you.

Popular posts from this blog

Autism, Asperger's, and IQ

"Aren't people with Asperger's more likely to be geniuses? Isn't genius related to autism?"

A university student asked this in a course I am teaching. The class discussion was covering neurological differences, free will, and the nature versus nurture debate. The textbook for the course includes sidebars on the brain and behavior throughout chapters on ethics and morality. This student was asking a question reflecting media portrayals of autism spectrum disorders, social skills difficulties, and genius.

I did not address this question from a personal perspective in class, but I have when speaking to groups of parents, educators, and caregivers. Some of the reasons these questions arise, as mentioned above, are media portrayals and news coverage of autism. Examples include:
Television shows with gifted characters either identified with or assumed to have autistic traits: Alphas, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Touch, and others. Some would include She…

Listen… and Help Others Hear

We lack diversity in the autism community.

Think about what you see, online and in the media. I see upper-middle class parents, able to afford iPads and tutors and official diagnoses. I see parents who have the resources to fight for IEPs and physical accommodations.

I see self-advocacy leadership that has been fortunate (and hard working, certainly) to attend universities, travel the nation (or even internationally), and have forums that reach thousands.

What I don't see? Most of our actual community. The real community that represents autism's downsides. The marginalized communities, ignored and excluded from our boards, our commissions, our business networks.

How did my lower-income parents, without college educations, give me a chance to be more? How did they fight the odds? They did, and now I am in a position of privilege. But I don't seem to be making much of a difference.

Demand that your charities seek out the broadest possible array of advisers and board members.…

Life Updates: The MFA Sprint

Life is okay, if more than a little hectic at the end of this first month.

With one month down, I'm 11 months away from my MFA in Film and Digital Technology. Though things might happen and things do go wrong, so far I'm on schedule and things are going well —— though I'm exhausted and working harder than I did for any other degree. Because the MFA requires projects every week, this isn't as easy to schedule as writing. Even researching a paper can be done from the comfort of home, at any hour.

You cannot make movies by yourself, at any time of day. It doesn't work that way. Filming takes time, and often requires a team of people. It's not comparable to working alone on a degree in writing or rhetoric.

The team-based nature of film is exhausting for me, but I enjoy the results. I also like the practical nature of the skills being taught. You either learn how to adjust ISO, f/Stop, shutter speed, and other variables or you don't. You can have theories …