Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 25 Issue 3 (May/June 2015), Pages 193-281

‘An Association for All’—Notions of the Meaning of Autistic Self‐Advocacy Politics within a Parent‐Dominated Autistic Movement (pages 219-231)


In this paper, we seek to explore the tensions between advocacy and self advocacy autistic movements in a Swedish context with a special focus on the meanings that enable the production of particular understandings of autism and the autistic subject. Drawing on articles written for the Swedish advocacy magazine Empowerment written for and by people with autism, the discourse analysis explores two competing discourses: a reformist and a radical. The reformist discourse underlines a goal of (political) representation expressed in Empowerment. It may be understood as an important part of producing a legitimate autistic political subject–positioned as a full member, with a full membership–within a parent‐dominated autistic advocacy movement. The reformist discourse can be viewed as a result of a negotiation, where full membership is conditioned on the parents' terms and granted on specific terms. These include working together (neuro‐inclusively), advocacy based on interest rather than identity/position as a specific target/member group, agreement upon a definition of autism as a disability (a deficit) a person has rather than an identity. In relation to this, an alternative legitimate autistic subject is produced through invoking the counter‐hegemonic radical discourse. Such a narrative produces the ‘Asperger’ or ‘Aspie’. Here, the ‘full membership’ refers to a sense of identification with sense of belonging to and being at home with other people with autism. It contains a certain amount of autistic solidarity within the group of adults with autism. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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