Introduction to the Fifth Edition of Autonomy

Volume 1. No. 5

Introduction to the Fifth Edition of Autonomy


July 11, 2017

By Laurence Arnold



Introduction to the Fifth Edition of Autonomy


Introduction to the Fifth Edition of Autonomy

By Laurence Arnold

I appreciate that it has been a very long interval between the last edition and the current of Autonomy, such that some readers have talked of its premature demise. I cannot apologise enough for the delays, and to the authors who have waited so long to see their articles approved. However here it is and as important as ever in my opinion. One thing I do not make apologies for is in my commissioning another Arnold to review a book from the standpoint of a non scholar, who is equally not engaged in the autistic community in any way. It is somewhat damning, and for all it is an outsiders perspective I think it does echo what many in the autistic community have had to say about the hijacking of Critical Autism Studies by those who stand to gain only by discrediting the crucial insider perspective that has been so important for many of us who are struggling to gain a toe hold in the academic world, facing problems not just because of our individual struggles in the social and economic world, but because of generations of outsider denigration of our selfhood and integrity, so strong words on the topic are indeed welcome as a riposte to this trend.

In calling itself the Critical Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Autonomy was already staking a claim for critical engagement with what could best be called the discourse of autism, for as I quoted in my own thesis: -
"Autism is a word, with a history and connotations. It is a semiotic pointer [and] what it signifies is governed not by any natural laws, but by the rules of communication theory" (Waltz, 2013)
That is to say there never has been any agreement on what constitutes the physical and neurological substrates of the constellation of apparent behavioural and social markers of the condition at this current time, but it is all in a state of flux and whilst it is the job of scholars to challenge current thinking all the time, it has to be done respectfully, because whether or not autism is real phenomenon or a complex artefact of current society meets neurological diversity, there are people in this world who are contained by the definitions, who are affected by these debates either directly or indirectly, and this is the community that this Journal fundamentally aims to serve.

Arnold in his review, (Arnold, 2017) says that being critical and making a critique are separate things, and indeed if one looks at the meaning of the word critical in a variety of context, it can mean anything from a discerning engagement with and detailed analysis of the field of study in question, to questions of criticical that is to say crucial importance.

For my own thoughts on the matter, you will have to seek my review outside of the bounds of Autonomy in the Journal of Good Autism Practice.



Arnold, L (2016) Review of Rethinking Autism Good Autism Practice, Vol 17 No.2. pp. 100-101(2)

Arnold, W (2017) Review of Rethinking Autism. CJIAS Vol 1 no.5.

Waltz, M. (2013) Autism- a Social and Medical History, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Preface.



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