The normalisation agenda and the psycho-emotional disablement of autistic people.

Damian Milton, Lyte Moon


This paper critically analyses the use of normative social scientific principles in the treatment of autistic people and utilises the concept of psycho-emotional disablement (Reeve, 2002, 2004), to suggest that such a dominant normalising agenda has led to the silencing of the autistic voice in knowledge production and community awareness. Reflecting upon the researchers own insider situated knowledge, and findings from a number of pilot studies conducted in the course of a doctoral research programme, this paper examines the insider/outsider positionality of parent and self advocates within the autistic community, before challenging the legacy of Lovaas and recent attempts in Britain to modify such techniques. The paper finishes with a reflection upon how such measures have led to the further disablement of autistic people and their subjective lifeworld.

This paper also includes a contribution from Lyte, who is an individual who I have met recently in the course of my studies. As an emerging voice regarding neurodiversity, Lyte puts their own point of view to some of the issues that have arisen in the course of my research and are highlighted by this paper.


Autism, Behaviourism, Normalisation, Psycho-emotional Disablement, Voice.


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