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Age of Autism: rethinking 'normal'

Are we suffering from an epidemic of autism? Or are we living through what has been termed the ‘Age of Autism’, where a developmental condition has taken on a far wider definition and meaning in society?


From being a developmental disability little heard of outside of medical circles and families directly affected by the condition twenty years ago, the idea of autism has become part of everyday culture and speech. From the figure of the autistic savant promoted in films such as Rain Man to George Osborne’s ‘autistic’ jibe aimed at Gordon Brown in 2006, autism has become shorthand for social phenomena of all sorts. For anti-MMR campaigners, autism is a consequence of the toxicity of modern medicine and modern life; self-help groups such as Aspies for Freedom make autism a matter of identity politics, arguing for a positive identity, and for people to ‘self-identify’ as autistic. Indeed, the autistic spectrum seems to be ever-widening, with a 2009 report arguing that it is wrong to see autism as a ‘distinct illness’ and that autistic traits are far more common in children than recognised.

Are we suffering from an epidemic of autism? Or are we living through what has been termed the ‘Age of Autism’, where a developmental condition has taken on a far wider definition and meaning in society? Has increased debate and discussion about autism helped or hindered those suffering from the condition and their families? And what does our fascination with autism say about us as a society?


Speaker(s):

Respondent: Professor Richard Ashcroft | talks
Dr Michael Fitzpatrick | talks
Elisabeth Hill | talks
Stuart Murray | talks
Sandy Starr | talks
Dr Shirley Dent | talks

 

Date and Time:

12 October 2009 at 7:00 pm

Duration:

1 hour 30 minutes

 

Venue:

Foyles Bookstore
113-119 Charing Cross Road
London
WC2 0EB


Show map

Organised by:

Institute of Ideas
See other talks organised by Institute of Ideas...

 

Tickets:

£7.50 (£5)

Available from:

http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/index.php/2009/session_detail/2590/

Additional Information:

http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/index.php/2009/session_detail/2590/

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