Introduction to the second edition

Volume 1. No. 2

Introduction to the second edition


October 28, 2013

By Larry Arnold


Introduction to the second edition

By Larry Arnold

This edition has been long in the preparation, as there is not only the perennial a difficulty for an editor especially at the beginning of a new journal as to what to include and what not. On top of that there is the task of mastering the technology of the open journal systems, and a degree of people management during the editing.

I cannot pretend that I have got everything right for the second edition, but to delay any longer would mean some very interesting material would continue to be unavailable.

It is certainly disheartening to reject articles, but this would not say much for the peer review process if everything that was submitted was automatically published. Although one of the purposes of the journal is to introduce new or lesser known writers, who have experienced difficulty in accessing peer review in the past, that does not mean the quality can be dropped. I have for instance spent some considerable time rewriting my own article, even though it had been presented in an oral format before, because the demands of the two are somewhat different and the script of a lecture cannot be assumed to be fit to publish. Even so I present it as an opinion piece rather than a piece of research.

But enough of the Editor, I would to introduce the other contributors.

Damian Milton needs little introduction as a rising figure on the autism circuit, delivering an often unfamiliar perspective, breaching (as he would use Garfinkels term) the norms of the expected academic discourse on autism. Filling the Gaps is a much needed sociological critique of the phenomenology of autism.

Dinah Murray is also an established author, but I hope the article included in this edition brings a fresh perspective as it is somewhat on the edge, where theory meets experience, drawing together observations about the autistic condition and what it means not to be a part of that normative academic and medical discourse.

Nicholas Chown also challenges the handed down ideas of autism which are too often accepted and included without critique as the background to contemporary research. If the basic ideas on which the study are not sound, how sound can the conclusions be of research which does not challenge them? Surely that is what all good science demands..

In the spirit of republishing autistic authors who do not necessarily write according to the conventions of an academic journal, I include another piece by Jim Sinclair, short though it is. Whilst it is not an original work that was written for this journal I nevertheless feel that by including it, I do give it further coverage, and at the same time introduce something that will be referred back to time and again. This journal is not intended to be one that sets down the way any minority should be allowed to refer to itself. When I consider my own experiences of research and academia, where I have been told what terms I, as an autistic person, am supposed to use to talk about myself, I have felt diminished and somewhat excluded by that patronising discourse. On that basis I make no apologies for including Jims here.

Amanda Baggs, is another autistic (perhaps that should be with a capital A) person whose writing in my opinion deserves wider coverage. Even if the bibliography I include was not compiled according to Harvard citation standards I feel the list is far too important to be excluded on such trivial grounds for it was never written for that audience. Nonetheless what Amanda has done, is as genuine a piece of research as any, in collecting together a list of Autistic authors, particularly those who have used augmented communication in some way or another. It certainly introduces a large catalogue of books that current researchers using autobiography as a source, have never considered before, relying it seems on a few widely available standards

Book reviews are always welcome, and this edition has all too few. It is usual for book reviews to endeavour to say something positive about the work, even if the reviewer is not impressed with it, and difficult given the sensitivities of authors to print something other than positive reviews, however that is not what the enquiring spirit of this journal demands. Autistic people, and all the reviewers for this edition are autistic are likely to be somewhat less impressed by books written from an outsider position looking in on our world. I think Caroline Henthornes deconstruction is a very good case in point, that needs to be read for the challenge to what is all too often accepted as orthodoxy. I have included Carolines review even though it is much longer than standard because again it reveals an opinion and a viewpoint too often marginalised.

I hope in any case this more complete edition will demonstrate what the journal is about, and what it is not about. It is certainly not about short circuiting the routes to academic publication, nor is it a repository for bizarre theories of autism that are not supported by convincing research or rigorous scholarship. It is however about critical thinking, new perspectives and a channel for further debate in future.

Larry Arnold





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