Sensory Overload, Part II | Amplified Recognition

habilitated agencement / autistic culture

(CW: ableism)

Studies on autism typically focus on treatment and rarely consider the notion of an ‘autistic culture’, leaving the term nebulous. In some cases, the question of culture is characterised as the environment the autistic individual is embedded into, illustrating the individual’s deviation from the norm. Considerations of autonomous autism actions usually base arguments within a cybernetic frame, where the autistic actor formulates and passes on world views to others through the circular feedback loop of the internet. Memoirs by autistic writers describe difficulties with childhood play and friendships, but also the pursuit of enjoyment and connection with others through stimming or discussing their specific interests.

Within disability studies, online autistic culture has been assessed as the result of shared experiential background, clustered around axes of identity. Subgroups form around specific disabilities and shared philosophies. The “Mad Pride” movement is a critique of the psychiatry profession’s treatment of disabled people, in particular “biomedical assignments of impairment […] This comes not in the form of a general pronouncement of inferiority, but in a direct and specific diagnosis and treatment process”. Its antecedents in the United States — with names like the Insane Liberation Front —  wished to change societal attitudes with the aid of lectures and publications. In recent years, Pearson and Trevisan have noted that disability activism in the UK is influenced by the new media ecology as austerity increases, while in the US the rapidly growing number of disabled individuals enrolling in higher level education has coincided with a growth in disability activism and resources in colleges.

In his introduction to the field of disability studies, Lennard J. Davis problematises the notion of the “norm”. In his analysis, he argues that the idea of “normality” is the inevitable result of intersecting historical phenomena. These being ancient society’s romanticising of the ideal, mixed with a neo-conservative interpretation of the Gaussian bell curve — which argues that poverty and intelligence are linked to inherited characteristics — and the eugenicist theories of Sir Francis Galton. Davis’ central argument operates under three observations: first, that the categorisation of a possible “ideal” body necessitates the application of a diametric equal (the ‘deviant’); this in turn creates stricter templates regarding what exactly the ‘normal’ body is; and finally, the statistical notion of the ‘ideal’ marks a significant departure from the classical conception, which was not powered by rank and did not depend upon a moral imperative placed upon the norm.

Later in the same text, Davis expands on the repercussions for the disabled as an identity group, arguing that postmodern debates on the construction of disability is necessary for civil rights development. In particular, the notion of a disabled ‘identity’ is one that needs to be further examined, as the civil rights debates surrounding disability deviate in ways both subtle and drastic from the intellectual traditions of other (and intersecting) marginalised groups based on sexuality, gender, class and race. Davis is not the only thinker to make this comparison. Anastasiou and Kauffman note the role of pathology in justifying abuse against African-American slaves (drapetomania — supposedly a mental condition that makes slaves run away from their masters) and homosexuality (notoriously once considered a psychiatric disorder that merited treatment, aversion and punishment), although they remain skeptical that a social constructionist approach to disability is entirely justified.

Participatory Culture and Identity Expression

A 2013 study into media use by adolescents on the spectrum found that in a group of 91, 98% used computers, particularly for engagement in video game and animation culture. The study also found that young neurodivergents “who visited websites for establishing or maintaining relationships reported more positive overall friendships than those who did not” although it should be noted that this study was limited in scope by being based in the United States and employing self-reportage. Nonetheless, it shows that new media platforms serve a role in neurodivergents’ lives that previously was not available to them.

Participation and engagement with media manifests not just in consumption but also the cultivation of autonomy, particularly in public disclosure of identity. Drawing upon work by Erving Goffman on impression management and stigma, research on intersectional disclosure on social media has not focused on disability as much as other disadvantaged groups. In the case of neurodivergents, difficulty with social skills can further problematise the question of disclosing their condition online, especially since the rigid, categorical nature of social media profiles can undermine their intentions. A 2016 study into disability disclosure on social media suggests that, while the positive effects on public understanding from the non-disabled are negligible, new media has nonetheless allowed for an evolution in disability culture that aligns with Petronio’s idea of the culture privacy characteristic. Though the study was focused on physical disability, it is nonetheless notable that these groups “reveal how social media includes and provides support for those people with disabilities who lost faith in the possibility of fully revealing themselves and having deep social connections”.

Political engagement in the neurodiversity movement is understudied, and even well-intentioned studies can fall victim to essentialist discourses based on medical and social constructions of neurodivergent characteristics. A study on reactions to the DSM-V altering the definition of Aspergers Syndrome in 2012 attempted to lessen such a burden by not providing statistical data that over-relies on any one argument, on the grounds that such data would be unreliable. This is further problematised by the issue of so-called ‘self-diagnosis’, whereby “the seductive image of the ‘aspie’ … attracts young people who see it as a convincing explanation for their own difficulties in socialising and — as is the case in other mental health online communities — regard their membership of the community as a step towards obtaining an ‘official’ diagnosis”. Indeed, ambivalence towards the medical profession is common in mental health communities, however this mistrust does not then necessarily lead to dismissive attitudes towards the role of diagnosis, and many self-diagnosed autistic people argue that the prohibitive costs of professional diagnosis leaves self-identification valid.

The most significant progression in recent years self-advocacy. This is a reaction against a public understanding of autism that is largely shaped by academics, clinicians and parents rather than the individuals themselves. Giles argues that “the Internet has handed those individuals a powerful voice… It may be that such communities come to assume centre stage in future debate over diagnostic categories”. This is especially so for nonverbal individuals, who can appropriate the tools of new media to express themselves and lessen the preponderance of so-called “low-functioning” autistic people being used as a rhetorical device. Mel Blaggs’ use of YouTube and blogging is the most notable example.

Tobin Siebers, influenced by feminist thought on situational knowledge, has described the challenges faced by disability studies as a need to develop a theory of complex embodiment that acknowledges the realism of bodies to a larger degree than the social construction model. Especially in individuals who appear high-functioning, research into autistic identity has been held back by the lack of apparent physical differences or underlying cause, thus leaving the facticity of autism in a seemingly perpetual transitional state. Some social model researchers in response have argued that autistic presence is primarily a social construction, and therefore the act of diagnosis and treatment is addressing a cultural product rather than a physical condition, varying in intensification depending on the individual and surrounding culture. The definition of an autistic identity or body can vary by country, societal attitude and the personal experience of the patient. Molloy (no relation) and Vasil note that autistic individuals who were ‘involuntarily’ diagnosed as children typically have vastly different experiences from those who were diagnosed later in life or who had taken a proactive role in their treatment, as the memory of diagnosis will become a key part of their childhood memories.

The interaction between complex bodies and the socialising effects of diagnosis leaves autistic identity relatively malleable, described by Davis as an “unstable” category that complicate debates on identity politics. This is especially the case on social media, where competing conceptions of complex embodiment can collide: a study found that posts by autism advocacy groups on social media reach larger audiences from the use of emotional language and audiovisual content, and it concedes that this is a condition easily exploitable by distributors of misinformation. The instability of autistic identity and the growth of autism activism has contributed neurodivergent perspectives to matters of public policy, gender studies and cyberactivism. Critique of autistic activism address the discrepancy between the experiences of high and low-functioning individuals and in some cases question the idealism of the non-pathology perspective, as in the trifling but amusing case of a writer to New Scientist who reasonably acknowledged the lack of resources available to families outside of large charities, but also dismissed openly-autistic activists as wannabe “X-Men” who do not (or cannot) understand their own best interests.

As we have established, autism and the internet have been superficially connected to the point of self-parody. In 2011, a leading neuroscientist was criticised by fellow academics and activists for the unsubstantiated suggestion that the rise in autism diagnoses and internet addiction were connected, while The Guardian’s Richard Watson was criticised by his own colleagues for speculating that Silicon Valley’s impropriety is explained by autism:

“If internet culture is on the autism spectrum, this could explain how some companies can regard privacy as collateral damage. It may also explain how some companies constantly miss the small social cues coming from their customers. It would certainly explain how Facebook continually offends its users, and may explain how some technology companies can’t see that an open, connected and copyright-free world isn’t necessarily better for everyone”

Instead of citing an autism researcher, neuroscientist or anyone involved in Silicon Valley or on the spectrum, Watson’s primary source for his analysis was a quip from a character in a satirical novel by Douglas Coupland. This attitude is common — Katherine May described a conversation with a sociologist who damned big-tech working culture as ‘institutionally autistic’ while tech-associated characters on the comedy series Silicon Valley and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Social Network’s characterisation of Mark Zuckerberg are arguably expanded riffs on Coupland’s original gag.

Writers and thinkers on autism have suggested that the Internet allows for flexibility in social responses and presents a predictable environment where sensory input can be modulated and adapted to specific needs, down to brightness, accessibility and colour preferences. The internet also serves as a potential escape from the “masking” common among autistic adults, where social camouflage and compensation techniques are used to hide immediately apparent signs of autism in order to fit in and make connections with others. A 2017 study found that social camouflaging is an exhausting experience that poses a threat to self-perception. Put another way, the internet has proven to be a popular tool used by individuals on the spectrum to renegotiate their identity and make significant contributions to the idea of an “autistic-friendly” world.

Online autistic activism is most prominent on blogging platforms, with a notable degree of loyalty to arguably obsolete systems. For example, despite the decreasing influence of Blogspot and WordPress for hobbyist bloggers in recent years (in favour of microblogging platforms, Tumblr and Medium), several influential activists such as Lydia Brown and Mel Baggs have consistently used their original accounts. That said, Medium is a prominent host of neurodiversity content, while Tumblr is notable for its collection of humorous memes and stories on the autistic experience. Tumblr is also a popular host for content that satirises medical-model charities like Autism Speaks. Allism Shouts and Field Notes on Allistics present inverted caricatures of various controversies, written from the perspective of a “normal” autistic commenting on the unusual behaviour of neurotypical people. Visual character naturally deviates across users, but is noticeably bright, colourful and cartoonish. Images are captioned with detailed descriptions for those with sight difficulties or confusion over the image’s content or purpose.

Weblogs feature crowdfunding links, meticulously organised tags and website categories, and run the gamut from journals, magazine-like blogsites with open submission practices, independently curated reading lists for visitors interested in the autism rights movement, and promotion for indie documentaries. Furthermore, YouTube is an example of the movement’s proclivity to adapt to whatever new media tools are offered to them, particularly in the case of nonverbal individuals who can adopt an audio-visual platform to creatively express a perspective that struggles with traditional speech. In fact, recordings of autistic “sensory overload” or meltdown is a micro-genre in itself, as an informative tool, a subject of mockery or as a series of hysterically titled videos by exhibitionist parents.

The ideas and arguments presented in the neurodiverse space do not conform to any one political ideology, but a leftist bent is noticeable among activists. There is a level of web-to-life community intervention, intuitive grasp of digital culture, and a desire to shift the Overton Window to accept the perspective of a group long ignored, abused and misunderstood. Look at it from an awkward angle and it resembles a mercifully coherent and benevolent burst from the same collision of digital and social that birthed recent reactionary movements.

Blogs that support neurodiversity appear to be closely affiliated — American sites in particular typically include a blogroll of similar websites, often promoted as an alternative to larger platforms like Autism Speaks, and they are enthusiastic participants of Blogging Against Disablism Day. Forums like Wrong Planet and remain popular and active, more-so than autism-related subreddits. Contemporary memes on autism are typically from a mocking, far-right perspective (see part 3). Memes created by and for autistic people rarely cross over into greater success, with the remaining examples notably dated, such as the “Autistic Hedgehog”. That said, autistic-created memes are a regular occurrence on the ActuallyAutistic hashtag on Tumblr and the Actually Autistic Memes Facebook page. Examples of autistic experience amplified through these platforms are:

Feeling pressure to “pass” as a neurotypical
Gender and intersectionality in autism
Criticism of the “autism parent” community
Ableist threats from ostensible supporters

Though for the most part written for an audience that shares autistic identity, blogs also promote information beneficial to neurotypicals. Thinking Persons’s Guide to Autism, for example, is a Blogspot-hosted platform that shares regular explainers of issues in the autistic community from the neurodiversity perspective in an accessible manner. The site also includes a comprehensive list of resources for the autistic, the not-yet-diagnosed, and parents.

Websites with considerably more alarmist tones are also in abundance, usually characterising ableist society as evidence of attempted “eugenics”. This is referred most commonly to anti-vaccination campaigns, extreme physical treatments, life-endangering ‘cures’ and, most divisively, pre-natal testing and euthanasia for autism. The latter controversies inspired the “Autism Genocide Clock”, a blogsite counting down to a predicted date in 2015 when routine abortions of autistic people were to become easily available, and the advocacy group Not Dead Yet, which argues against the liberalisation of euthanasia laws for the disabled.

Identity Mediation

As autism is largely analysed enigmatically, some researchers have advocated for the use of intermediation to act as connective tissue between the lived experience of autism and education practices. This has taken the form of drama education, art/music therapy, and independent ventures on YouTube and blogging platforms. Trimingham and Shaughnessy discuss the impact of the neurodiversity paradigm on their work as drama educators, noting that hyper/hypo-sensitivity to sensory experiences can and should inform intermedial practices, arguing for “active learning through an iterative cycle of practice as research… making sense of autism through experiencing the child interacting with the mediality of the pod’s scenic environments”.

On the other hand, phenomena such as YouTube videos depicting the autistic experience is perhaps better described as remediation. J. David Bolter and Richard A. Grusin have argued that remediation is a key aspect of new digital media, as the field is known for its near-constant incorporation and reinterpretation of other media. In this case autistic bloggers and content creators are operationalising the digital media landscape to remediate previous attempts to represent and embody their condition, including prominent theories of autistic behaviour like dysprosody and echolalia.

Prosody is a literary term used to describe patterns of stress, intonation and rhythm in language. Dysprosody has been described as a selective impairment in the integration of prosodic and semantic cues to emotion, although this is dependent on both task and the character of emotion. Autistic dysprosody is characterised as either a flat, toneless voice; a hyper, exaggerated tone that risks clashing with subject matter; or as speech that restrains flow in favour of clipped bursts. A 2011 study suggests that autistic speakers employ an increased range of pitch variation, and that its unconventionality is not typically registered by listeners.

Echolalia is the repetition of specific vocalisations by an individual. As a common symptom of autism is a struggle to produce spontaneous speech, it is thought that echolalia may be a coping mechanism or practice in verbal socialising. Uta Frith suggested that echolalia is an example of gestalt processing in autistic children; an attempt to acquire meaningful perceptions in a chaotic world. Incidental echolalia refers to difficulties in filtering out background environmental noise. Echolalia is a common target of applied behavioural analysis, however some thinkers have argued that echolalia is a potentially useful resource in accommodating the communication needs of autistic children.

Recent social-model based research has reassessed dysprosody, stimming and echolalia from cultural perspectives, including ethnomusicology and subsequently interacting with such behaviours through music therapy.

These two behaviours are readily apparent in the work of Mel Baggs, whose video “In My Language” took advantage of the abilities afforded by the early years of YouTube to present a compelling counter-argument to the assumption that non-verbal autistic individuals are necessarily unable to communicate lucidly. A concession to traditional speech comes halfway through the video, described as a ‘translation’: “My language is not about designing words or even visual symbols for people to interpret. It is about being in a constant conversation with every aspect of my environment […] Ironically, the way that I move when responding to everything around me is described as ‘being in a world of my own’”.

In the decade since “In My Language” was released, digital media has increasingly introduced subcultures that veer away from accessible vernacular or, in some cases, world-views. Meme culture is an ever-expanding prism of individuals incorporating the nuances of their environment and personal prosody into humour; furthermore, the 2016 presidential election has shown that internet-based subcultures are now significant contributors in cultural and political debate. Although autism’s place in meme culture is, for the most part, indulgent in stigma (D’Anastasio), online content created by neurodivergent communities suggest a similar investment in using online tools to represent and renegotiate identity, such as the #ActuallyAutistic Twitter hashtag, a rolling thread for autistic individuals to converse without intrusion.

“Nothing About Us, Without Us”

Michael Hardt writes that the emergence of internet-based activism coincides with ever-increasing rates of technological change and apparent “accelerated rhythms of political shifts”. Despite this interest, digital activism does not necessarily have a fixed definition. It can be used to describe activism that engages with specific characteristics of digital media (e.g. hacktvisim, DDOS attacks, hashtag and open-source advocacy); or more broadly to describe any digital media used for political purposes, where the internet is seen “as a ‘popular space’ that needs to be appropriated by ordinary citizens, turned away from consumptive activities and towards the purpose of popular mobilisation against the neoliberal elites”.

A 2017 introduction to digital activism posited that studies into such movements are limited in scope – either by implying a universal method of certain devices or infrastructures, or by hewing too closely to the established definitions of activism and subsequently missing the unique abilities afforded by by the internet. In response, Treré has argued that further studies into digital activism must acknowledge “the coexistence and coevolution of activists and their technologies”, particularly so in studying online advocacy and activism by autistic people, as the internet has been popularly declared an autistic-friendly space almost since its inception.

Katherine Runswick-Cole identified two significant factions in the self-advocacy movement: “autism advocates” (awareness of people on the autism spectrum based on an understanding of autism as a disorder) and “autistic advocates” (an understanding of autism based on autism-as-difference and as a distinct culture). She argues that autism advocates enjoy higher levels of mainstream attention and prestige as it most closely correlates with the high value placed upon science in neoliberal societies, which then funnel the majority of resources into treatment, intervention and environmental factors.

Disability researchers have noted that the internet has become a central figure in disability activism, going so far as to claim that digital activism is now “deeply embedded” in disability culture. Furthermore, the relationship between the internet and disability can be seen as “paradigmatic for the wider debates on the philosophies, forms, and formats embedded in technologies”, particularly in the UK where disabled lives are particularly affected by austerity, budget cuts and hostility towards welfare recipients. However, it must be noted that internet accessibility is not a guarantee for socially active disabled people, and that disability-friendly platforms need not only be assistive.

The most prominent counter-group to the paradigm represented by Autism Speaks is the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), a US-based non-profit which emphasises improving the lives of autistic individuals over medical research and makes a point of hiring autistic individuals to serve on its board. ASAN’s website features statements on autism-related news stories, with a significant section on public policy that affects autistic citizens, often in the form of open letters that explain proposed legislation and the surrounding debate in detail, for example the seductively headlined “Comments on Proposed Delay of Significant Disproportionality Rule”. Such groups seek to use the affordances of digital media in order to boost the social capital of autism.

Victor Turner originally described the liminal moment as a transitional state where old structures have been brought down and new ones are not yet created. In Life on the Screen, Sherry Turkle writes that the Internet serves as a permanent state of liminality, “a moment of passage when new cultural symbols and meanings can emerge. Liminal moments are times of tension, extreme reactions, and great opportunity”. As autism’s liminal moment makes its tentative steps outside of the internet, it is operationalising newly habilitated identity to disabuse stereotypes and shift political burdens.

New media is not just a useful social prosthesis for the socially-challenged, but an example of the ability of virtuality to become a transitional space. In this space, intellectually and socially ambitious groups are operationalising new media tools to construct subjectivities that critique and subvert societal expectations of autistic life. The goal is not just to increase support for autistic people, but to redefine the notion of autism itself on their own terms. This takes the form of both organised, ideological advocacy and tongue-in-cheek mockery of the medical model’s ubiquity in autism research.

“The appeal (or not) of neuroscience in constructing identities depends on what is gained or lost politically, economically and in the meaning of the category. In confronting neurobiological vocabulary about identity, autistic self-advocates and adolescents both negotiate notions of difference/homogeneity and pathology/normalcy, appealing to, or resisting, the brain to confer different meanings in relation to these themes”.


Although difficult to determine, it is likely that this movement and their critics — notable in their digital nativity — will have significant roles to play in future civil rights debate. The increasing scale of autistics inhabiting their identities through the mediated lens of digital media, while still niche, has not gone unnoticed by critics of the neurodiversity paradigm. The confluence of habilitated agencement and complex embodiment as described in this section has resulted in a considerable backlash. The next two sections will assess the movements pushing back against online autistic identity. The first, Corporeal Sensitivity, will follow the embodied empowerment engendered by the subjects in this chapter towards the dialectic and political strictures resisting the emerging movement.


Anastasiou, Dimitris, and James M. Kauffman. “The Social Model of Disability: Dichotomy between Impairment and Disability.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, vol. 38, no. 4, 2013, pp. 441–459.

Arsad, Nuraini. “Autism Activism.” New Scientist, vol. 207, no. 2769, 2010, pp. 24–24. Autistic Self Advocacy Network,

Bail, Christopher A. “Emotional Feedback and the Viral Spread of Social Media Messages About Autism Spectrum Disorders.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 106, no. 7, July 2016, pp. 1173–80.

Bakan, Michael. “The Musicality of Stimming: Promoting Neurodiversity in the Ethnomusicology of Autism.” MUSICultures, vol. 41, no. 2, Jan. 2014, pp. 133–161.

Bumiller, Kristin. “Quirky Citizens: Autism, Gender, and Reimagining Disability.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 33, no. 4, June 2008, pp. 967–991.

Chamberlin, J. (1977) On our own: Patient-controlled alternatives to the mental health system. Lawrence, MA: National Empowerment Center, Inc.

Conn, Carmel. “‘Sensory Highs’, ‘vivid Rememberings’ and ‘Interactive Stimming’: Children’s Play Cultures and Experiences of Friendship in Autistic Autobiographies.” Disability & Society, vol. 30, no. 8, Sept. 2015, pp. 1192–1206.

Coupland, Douglas. Microserfs. New York, NY: ReganBooks, 1996.

D’Anastasio, Cecilia. “What People Miss When They Use ‘Autistic’ As An Insult.” Kotaku, 20 Aprile 2017.

Davis, Lennard J. (2013a) “Introduction: Disability, Normality, and Power” The Disability Studies Reader (ed. Davis, Lennard J.) New York: Routledge

Davis, Lennard J. (2013b) The end of normal – identity in a biocultural era. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press

Ellis, Katie et al. “FCJ-188 Disability’s Digital Frictions: Activism, Technology, and Politics.” Fibreculture Journal, no. 26, June 2015, pp. 7–31.

Ennis-Cole, Demetria, et al. “The Impact of Culture on Autism Diagnosis and Treatment: Considerations for Counselors and Other Professionals.” The Family Journal, vol. 21, no. 3, July 2013, pp. 279–87

Frith, U. (1989) Autism: Explaining the enigma. Oxford: Blackwell.

Furr, June B., et al. “Strategic Approaches to Disability Disclosure on Social Media.” Disability & Society, vol. 31, no. 10, Nov. 2016, pp. 1353–68

Gerbaudo, P. “From Cyber-Autonomism to Cyber-Populism: An Ideological History of Digital Activism.” TripleC, vol. 15, no. 2, 2017, pp. 478–491.

Giles, David C. “‘DSM-V Is Taking Away Our Identity’: The Reaction of the Online Community to the Proposed Changes in the Diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder.” Health:, vol. 18, no. 2, 2014, pp. 179–195.

Giles, David C. and Newbold J (2011) Self- and other-diagnosis in user-led online mental health communities. Qualitative Health Research 21(3): 419–428.

Goffman, E. (1963) Stigma. Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. London: Penguin.

Goggin, Gerald et al. “Internet Accessibility and Disability Policy: Lessons for Digital Inclusion and Equality from Australia.” Internet Policy Review, Mar. 2017.

Grossi, D., et al. “On the Differential Nature of Induced and Incidental Echolalia in Autism.” Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, vol. 57, no. 10, 2013, pp. 903–912.

Grusin. (1999) Remediation: Understanding New Media. The MIT Press.

Hardt, M. (2017). “Multiple Temporalities of the Movements”. TripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique, 15(2), 390-392.

Hull, Laura, et al. “‘Putting on My Best Normal’: Social Camouflaging in Adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 47, no. 8, 2017, pp. 2519–2534.

Kaun, Anne, and Julie Uldam. “Digital Activism: After the Hype.” New Media And Society, 2017

Kimball, Ezekiel W., et al. “College Students with Disabilities Redefine Activism: Self-Advocacy, Storytelling, and Collective Action.” Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, vol. 9, no. 3, 2016, pp. 245–60. 55

Kuo, Melissa H., et al. “Media Use among Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Autism, vol. 18, no. 8, 2014, pp. 914–923.

Kurchak, Sarah. “The Stories We Don’t Tell” Medium. (6 March 2018)

Lewis, B. “A Mad Fight: Psychiatry and Disability Activism” in Davis, Lennard J. (ed.) The Disability Studies Reader New York: Routledge (2013, 4th Edition)

Marom, Maya K., et al. “Musical Features and Interactional Functions of Echolalia in Children with Autism within the Music Therapy Dyad.” Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, vol. 27, no. 3, May 2018, pp. 175–196.

Masataka, Nobuo. “Implications of the Idea of Neurodiversity for Understanding the Origins of Developmental Disorders.” Physics of Life Reviews, vol. 20, 2017, pp. 85–108

May, Katherine. “Autism from the inside”. (22 August 2018)

McVeigh, Tracy. “Research linking autism to internet use is criticised” The Guardian. 6 August 2011.

Molloy, Harvey and Latika Vasil. “The Social Construction of Asperger Syndrome: the pathologising of difference?” Disability & Society 17.6 (2002): 659–69.

Murray, Stuart. Representing Autism Culture, Narrative, Fascination. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2008.

Nadig, Aparna, and Holly Shaw. “Acoustic and Perceptual Measurement of Expressive Prosody in High-Functioning Autism: Increased Pitch Range and What It Means to Listeners.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 42, no. 4, 2012, pp. 499–511.

Neely, Leslie, et al. “Treatment of Echolalia in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review.” Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 3, no. 1, 2016, pp. 82–91.

Orsini, Michael, and Miriam Smith. “Social Movements, Knowledge and Public Policy: The Case of Autism Activism in Canada and the US.” Critical Policy Studies, vol. 4, no. 1, Apr. 2010, pp. 38–57.

Ortega, Francisco, and Suparna Choudhury. “‘Wired up Differently’: Autism, Adolescence and the Politics of Neurological Identities.” Subjectivity, vol. 4, no. 3, Sept. 2011, pp. 323–45.

Parsloe, Sarah M., and Avery E. Holton. “#Boycottautismspeaks: Communicating a Counternarrative through Cyberactivism and Connective Action.” Information, Communication & Society, vol. 21, no. 8, Aug. 2018, pp. 1116–1133.

Pearson, Charlotte, and Filippo Trevisan. “Disability Activism in the New Media Ecology: Campaigning Strategies in the Digital Era.” Disability & Society, vol. 30, no. 6, July 2015, pp. 924–40.

Petronio, S. S. (2002) Boundaries of Privacy: Dialectics of Disclosure. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Rimmerman, A. (2012). Social Inclusion of People with Disabilities. Cambridge University Press.

Romano, Michela, et al. “The Relationship between Autism Quotient, Anxiety, and Internet Addiction.” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, vol. 8, no. 11, 2014, pp. 1521–1526.

Runswick-Cole, Katherine. “‘Us’ and ‘them’: the limits and possibilities of a ‘politics of neurodiversity’ in neoliberal times” Disability & Society, Vol. 29, 2014, pp.1117-1129

Siebers, Tobin. Disability Theory. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2008

Singh, Leher, and Marilouise S. Harrow. “Influences of Semantic and Prosodic Cues on Word Repetition and Categorization in Autism.” Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, vol. 57, no. 5, 2014, pp. 1764–1778.

Sterponi, Laura, and Jennifer Shankey. “Rethinking Echolalia: Repetition as Interactional Resource in the Communication of a Child with Autism.” Journal of Child Language, vol. 41, no. 2, 2014, pp. 275–304.

Treré (2012) “Social movements as information ecologies: Exploring the coevolution of multiple internet technologies for activism” International Journal of Communication 6: 2359–2377

Trimingham, Melissa, and Nicola Shaughnessy. “Material Voices: Intermediality and Autism.” Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 21, no. 3, July 2016, pp. 293–308.

Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Turner, “Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage”, in The Forest of Symbols. NY: Cornell University Press, 1967

Watson, Richard. “In Silicon Valley, Young White Males Are Stealing the Future from Everyone Else” The Guardian, 27 May 2016.

Sensory Overload, Part I | The Social Prosthesis

prosthetic agencement / sensory-inclusivity

Sensory ethnography is an approach towards sensory research in new media developed by the cultural anthropologist Sarah Pink, who argued that the field challenges existing representational and cultural axioms surrounding sensory studies. Meryl Alper argues that in light of recent ethnographic research on how senses affect the experience of technology, an inclusive sensory ethnography is required in order to account for neurodiversity in future studies. For example, autistic children have frequently described the integration of media in the act of sensory-regulation, sometimes as a self-directed act of adaptation towards unpleasant experiences.

Paterson described touch as being not just a singular mode of perception but an “ensemble” of affective, kinaesthetic and somatic ways of knowing. Richardson proposed that encounters with screens in every-day life are affected by the co-constitutive nature of mediated environments and practices embedded within the screen’s interface: “Such a perspective considers the screen interface as quite literally an aspect of our corporeal schematics; that is, through routine use screens have become part of the dynamic arrangement of our embodied experience”. This is further complicated by difficulties in unusual sensory capabilities (identified by Dunn as: low sensory registration, sensory seeking, sensory sensitive, and sensory avoiding) as well as the cultural and social shaping of sensory dysregulation as in the active discouragement and punishment towards behaviours common among the autistic population.

Affordances are the characteristics of an environment, tangible or otherwise, that set the terms of engagement by which a user can interact with their surroundings. Rather than a rigid rulebook defined by limitations, the role of an affordance is constituted by “what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill… it implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment” (Gibson 127). In new media studies, affordances are closely related to sensory perception, particularly in regards to sight and sound, but this has extended to touch as haptic media (such as touch-screens) achieved greater prominence.

Goggin and Newell have noted that “new media technologies have become central to and formative of disability communities” while also lamenting that the same technologies are prone to “new forms of exclusion” or tokenism. Paterson, in his study of haptic media, emphasises the positive potential of VR technologies and its ability to reframe the idea of bodies and sensory perception, writing that such innovations represent

“an opportunity to include users with a range of physical and sensory abilities or impairments [and] to experiment with the sensorium […] this wilful engagement with the multi-sensory nature of media has assumed that bodies themselves become laboratories, somatic sites where empirical work can be done on the constituents of the sensorium, where alterations and perturbations of the normate sensorium occur not only as entertainment but also as a way of promoting more empathic engagements with the environment or with others”.

Goggin, on the other hand, remains skeptical, noting that there “remains an assumption that developments in new media will expand the worlds of all us, including users with disabilities… it is evident that through media, even today, we only appreciate a small fraction of the human sensorium”.

Prosthetic Targets

Executive Functioning is a term used to describe a particular set of components in human cognition, specifically working-memory, planning, impulse control, inhibition and mental flexibility. Deficits in executive functioning are very common in autistic individuals, negatively affecting competence in “self-regulation, self-directed behavior toward a goal, breaking out of habits, making decisions and evaluating risks, planning for the future, prioritising and sequencing action, coping with novel situations” and so on. The condition is thought to be connected to disordered cortical connectivity in the prefrontal cortex, which is linked to decision making, personality expression and other complex cognitive functions. A neuropsychological study found that greater divergences in behaviour occurred with older individuals with ASD.

Most professional treatments of executive function involve mediation to at least some degree, most commonly with playing cards and video games, or at least an approximation of ludonarrative-based exercises. A study into one such app from the medical perspective emphasised autistic childrens’ inability to “ignore visual and auditory distractors, or to inhibit ongoing activity on behalf of a new one, or to extract themselves from a routine”. The ultimate goal of such treatment was presented thusly: “beyond acquiring always more knowledge, it is crucial to be able to inhibit reactions that get in the way of learning something new”. Treatment that seeks to ameliorate, if not outright remove, part-and parcel aspects of autistic behaviour is a frequent target of critique within the neurodivergent space.

Recent research has suggested that autistic behaviours may be more influenced by the environment than previously thought, with some advocating further research into prenatal factors. In other fields, research has assessed the creative and practical potential of designing for autistic audiences, particularly in regard to creating a comfortable, sensory-friendly home environment. Sensitivity to sound is of particular interest, noting that coping mechanisms among adults with ASD are largely avoidant, as unpleasant noises can feel intrusive, overwhelming and emotionally deleterious.

Corporeal reflexivity is the display of awareness of one’s body as simultaneously an experiencing subject and as a physical object accessible to the gaze and interpretation of others. Researchers believe that deficits in this area contributes to stigma and isolation, as a particularly afflicted individual would be left vulnerable to the power imbalance in sharing physical spaces with peers uncomfortable with autistic behaviour such as stimming. The use of online media arguably contributes to mitigation of this condition, as the physical body and its behaviour can be removed from the contributions of the online subject to whatever extent the individual prefers.

Joint attention is the act of sharing the focus of attention with others to a common point of reference, by either directing or following. Response to direction requires attentional orientation and visual engagement with the target of another person’s gaze, both common impairments associated with autism. Discomfort with eye contact has become one of the most common cultural tropes of autism, while treatment seeks to increase the regularity of joint attention behaviour as much as possible. Autism Speaks has endorsed tablet apps that target eye contact, although a 2015 study noted that no known research has assessed such apps’ efficacy and found it ineffective compared to differential reinforcement sessions.

Digital Interventionism

The introduction of Apple’s iPad in 2010 kickstarted a multitude of studies on the tablet’s communicative potential for autistic individuals, particularly in facilitating speech and data- gathering on autistic children for further research. A column for the Thinking Autism Guide from 2010 proclaimed the iPad a “near-miracle” for autistic children.

Autism-related tablet apps have become a cottage industry unto itself — Autism Speaks curates a list of over 700 apps on its website, with “research ratings” to denote relevant studies: Anecdotal (no specific or related research), Research (some related research but not direct studies) and Evidence (solid or specific evidence that the app has proven to be helpful). Almost all of these apps are targeted towards children, and appear to be significantly influenced by the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis. For example, EASe Personal Listening Therapy (rated “Anecdotal”) delivers short bursts of intense sound to acclimatise children to noisy surroundings.

Several models attempt to explain atypical eye contact in ASD, including hyperarousal (the amygdala struggling to prioritise social information in the environment) and mindblindness (which suggests individuals with ASD are born without an innate module that rewards sharing attentional states with others). Autistic individuals have described the sensation of eye contact with language related to anxiety, threat, violation, sensory overload, energy exertion and confusion. Singer has noted the internet’s potential to “liberate” autistic people from intricate conversational turn-taking, body language and eye contact.

Inspired by the success of the tablet in assisting treatment, further studies have focused on the use of other emerging technologies, including augmented reality (Syahputra et al), Google Glass as well as computerised analysis of facial expression. Despite it’s title, the Glass app Empower Me’s website includes some statements that contradict common neurodiversity arguments on behaviour control: stimming is dismissed as providing only “short-term comfort”, while the app hopes to substitute “covert” stimming behaviours when desired.

Furthermore, the app is proudly gamified, even including a point system for eye contact, which is then added to a realtime data stream for analysis (pictured below). Harnessing the algorithmic power of Big Data is presented by the platform as a significant virtue, stating that their goal “is to uncover data-driven subtypes of autism, and to customise the experience for each unique child and adult. By being part of the Brain Power family, you are also part of perhaps the world’s biggest humanitarian study of autism and related conditions”. Perhaps tellingly, none of the testimonials provided by the website are by autistic individuals, instead presenting the perspectives of parents, a special needs teacher and an ABA therapist.

Blah blah generic just like Black Mirror caption here

The still-developing app Molehill Mountain (promoted by the charity Autistica and released shortly after the completion of this text in June 2018) proposes an alternative approach that prioritises the input of autistic people. Molehill Mountain is an adaptation of a paper-based anxiety tool developed by King’s College London. The app, designed to alleviate anxiety symptoms, was the result of a ‘hackathon’ of 150 autistic people, including designers and developers. The app’s website also makes note of surveying autistic users for feedback. As the app has only been recently released, further analysis is forthcoming. Consequently, the merits and drawbacks of its attempt to bridge the gap between autistic needs and the functions of medical-model influenced apps remains to be seen.

Proposed treatment for autism commonly appropriates forms of digital media, usually accompanied with the argument that autistic individuals are uniquely suited to such treatments, “an extension of [their] individual psyche and mode of communication and expression […] They illustrate how Wittel’s concept of ‘network sociality’ can transcend between physical and online spaces, calling upon us to rethink and reconceptualise notions of sociality with the inclusion of technology as an integral part of communication and life”. The use of video games as a form of training is particularly common, with games designed to improve social interaction, posture and loneliness, although there is no explicit link between friendship quality and regular online gaming as compared to other hobbies.

As the internet gained societal prominence, association with autistic identity continued, often by comparison to the significance of the typewriter and phone for the deaf and blind communities. In other (perhaps overly utopian and certainly of-its-time) words, “for many autistics the Internet is Braille”. In another analysis, Hacking argues that the internet’s juggling of the social and solitary result in a level playing-field between the autistic and neurotypical worlds. Neurodivergents use online communication tools to express themselves more like neurotypicals, who are in turn denied the ability to use the full range of emotional and intellectual expression the autistic may struggle with. However, as Ellis and Kent note: “if people with disability in this sense become invisible in virtual worlds, this could have implications for the visibility of people with disability in broader society”.

Online tools have been thought to offer a corrective to what Hans Asperger originally described as a “failure of community”. Other early researchers made the link between technology and autism particularly explicit. An example is Bruno Bettelheim’s controversial description of young boys on the spectrum as lacking humanity, a condition exacerbated by the newly industrial societal structure – a society “of mechanised plenty” – that leaves the autistic mind ever more abstruse. However much Bettelheim’s idea has been criticised since, Pinchevski and Peters note that the implicit dichotomy between technical and social skills remained in the popular consciousness. This trope “not only survived the changing etiology but has now become its leitmotif”. This most explicitly was expressed in the metaphorical use of the disabled body and mind in cyborg studies, a state of constant need to escape and achieve transcendence. Popular awareness of the metaphor increased with high-profile ‘cyborg hoaxes’, where disabled identity is exploited in making emotional appeals to “the protective impulses of those they deceive, offering feminine perfection juxtaposed with the stigmas of disability or illness”.

Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) is a psychological discipline that encourages the alteration or removal of socially significant behaviour. In contrast to earlier treatments, ABA begins through functional analysis, assessing the relationship between a targeted behaviour and the environment. ABA became a landmark alternative to institutionalisation after the 1987 publication of Ivar Lovaas’ “Behavioral Treatment and Normal Educational and Intellectual Functioning in Young Autistic Children”, where typically autistic external behaviour was ameliorated through constant drills, in some cases up to 40 hours a week.

It is, in other words, “extreme” work — one that demands a large level of investment and effort from autistic people and usually against their own will. A paper published in 2015 wrote on the normalisation within modern workplaces to take on aspects of “extreme” work no matter how routine or banal said work actually is: long hours, intimidating superiors, and the anxiety from knowing work is scarce, desirable and unpleasant. Granter and McCann speculate on the possible causal relationships between increasingly high-pressure mid-level work with the risiing popularity in “extreme”, “hypermediated” entertainment. “Extreme” as a trope, they argue, is the inevitable result of a society modelled under Ulrich Beck’s conception of a risk society that has become addicted to the acceleration of its own increasing pace. In recent years, ABA therapy is encouraged to consider the needs of patients in a psychocentric framework to better accommodate the needs of autistic people.

ABA is a controversial topic in autistic space, with bloggers and activists describing the treatment’s erasure of autistic behaviour as dehumanising and cruel. Autism blogs regularly critique ABA and Lovaas in particular, as his clinic regularly used physical threats and electrical shocks to discourage stimming, a behaviour he described as monstrous. These criticisms — which include open letters, vivid and harrowing depictions of violence, and critique of the field’s lionisation of Lovaas — made enough of an impact to reach mainstream news publications including the Atlantic and The Guardian. The latter article, published in 2015, notes the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices by nonverbal autistic people as a possible alternative to behaviour-altering treatment, though it concedes that scientific studies of these treatments are not yet at the stage of medical validation enjoyed by ABA, which has benefited from a “one-size-fits-all” reputation.

That said, although the field has ostensibly moved on from Lovaas’ violent techniques, they remain a sticking point between the neurodiversity paradigm and neurotypical professionals and parents. Some autism researchers in the modern-day continue to advocate for Lovaas-style treatment. The etiology scholar Laura Ellen Schreibman’s The Science and Fiction of Autism from 2006, for example, was useful as a resource for general knowledge in the early stages of my research, but the book itself is a startling example of catastrophism over the autistic condition. Schreibman blithely dismisses most other treatments, does not acknowledge the perspective of any autistic individual and repeatedly claims that 75% of autistic children are gravely retarded. Disturbingly, she also writes a passage where she presents a patient from her past, who struggled with physical behaviour to the point of risking harm to herself and others. Schreibman then writes a what-if ending where she gave electric shocks to the patient, and writes regretfully that the hospital’s rules prevented her from doing so. Such attitudes are reoccurring now in social media discussions on the condition, particularly in ableist hate-speech.

Social accommodation for autistic individuals note that multi-sensory engagement is a useful resource. A study of insights from autistic people found advocation for “escape rooms” in higher education with low lighting, noise and/or strong smells, and the option of noise-cancelling headphones. Other proposals for innovative education regularly cite the importance of visuals and multimedia presentation. A proposed framework, called the “Visual Hybrid Development Learning System (VHDLS)”, argued that autistic children are more likely to focus on specific tasks with hybrid visual models “because it provided them with affective pictures (representational) and stimulating effect (decorative) which balances their atypical sensory reaction and thus increases their attention”.

Typically, the predictability of computer technology is the most apparent rationale for their appeals to the autistic, although Katharina Spiel has noted that the majority of available technologies are diagnostic or treatment-based, leaving an “implicit assumption [that] there is an increase in quality of life for autistic individuals if they function in a more neurotypical way”. As a corrective, it is argued that an appropriate model to study autistic software is a variation on the framework by McCarthy and Wright, where experience spans across four threads: sensual, emotional, compositional and spacio-temporal; all aspects of lived experience that are commonly affected by autism.

Michel Callon’s agencements were formulated to enrich understanding of the diversity of individual agency and to mitigate the limited actions applicable to certain sets and subsets of people. Callon’s argument, that the network economy mobilises the transcendent action of homo economicus to a potentially limitless scale, is seen in the industry of online autism treatments. Essentially, online tools propose the generation of individual agency through interactivity, placing the autistic user in situations where they are required “to be reactive, to use initiative, to be imaginative, and constantly to boost the action in order to test new possibilities and take observable results into account. The creation of connections makes it possible to mobilise, at the same place, the different instruments, equipment, data, and information constituting and multiplying the individual’s cognitive capacities”.

In practice the scale of development has been double-edged for the neurodivergent space: the influence of controversial treatments such as ABA, funding from large corporations and medical-model charities and a lack of consultation from autistic advocates are regular sticking points. In the case of Brain Power, its stated goals (the elimination of stimming behaviour) and techniques (mass-scale collection of data on autistic people, the gamification of acting ‘normal’) stand in clear opposition to the arguments of the #ActuallyAutistic.

Callon’s text asks if the enmeshing of the market sphere and individualisation (which he describes as an agencement) creates a context within which the market actively excludes those who cannot adjust to the altered and newly-consolidated normative frame. The following sections propose that the online autistic community are operationalising the agencement concept within new media platforms to develop an enlightened normative framework of autism which challenges conventional wisdom. In other words, if Callon is correct that markets inevitably alienate those who cannot conform, then the autistic community are an example of a group utilising the twin-trends of increased autonomy and online networks to critique and transcend its own cultural cache.

Early treatments and assessments classified autism as a ‘failure of community’ — no doubt further complicated by lack of resources and ready accessibility to other autistic voices. The #ActuallyAutistic community — its blogs, forums and community hashtags — encourage agency through the consolidation of online social performance and self-directed, empowering exercises.

For the newly-diagnosed or curious, the social prosthesis afforded by the web — especially when taken to its extremes by Silicon Valley — affords agency through sheer volume. In itself, the choice to join a community hashtag, subreddit, forum, blogging or social media platform is the practice of agencement tailored to the specific needs and tastes of the individual.

The next section will study the second stage of agencement, a break from accommodating the drawbacks of autistic impairment to a habilitated identity that shifts the burden of maladjustment away from the afflicted and towards societal expectations.


Alper, Meryl. “Inclusive Sensory Ethnography: Studying New Media and Neurodiversity in Everyday Life.” New Media & Society, 2018.

Banire, Bilikis, et al. “Visual Hybrid Development Learning System (VHDLS) Framework for Children with Autism.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 45, no. 10, 2015, pp. 3069–3084.

Bettelheim, Bruno (1959) “Joey: a mechanical boy.” Scientific American 200(3): 117–123.

Blume H (1997) “Autism and the Internet” or “It’s the wiring, stupid.” Media in Transition. Bolter, J. David & Richard Grusin. (1999) Remediation: Understanding New Media. The MIT Press.

Brown, Lydia X. “Why we must #BoycottToSiri / An open letter to Judith Newman” (07 December 2017)

Burch, Leah. “‘You Are a Parasite on the Productive Classes’: Online Disablist Hate Speech in Austere Times.” Disability & Society, vol. 33, no. 3, Mar. 2018, pp. 392–415

Callon, Michel. “Economic Markets and the Rise of Interactive Agencements: From Prosthetic Agencies to Habilitated Agencies.” Living in a Material World, edited by Trevor Pinch and Richard Swedberg, The MIT Press, 2008, pp. 28–56.

Chance, Paul. o. Ivar Lovaas Interview with Paul Chance (1974).

Craig F, et al. “A Review of Executive Function Deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, vol. 2016, May 2016, pp. 1191–1202.

Des Roches Rosa, Shannon & Robert Rummel-Hudson. “iPads: Near-Miracles for Kids With Autism.” The Thinking Autism Guide. 26 November 2010.

Devita-Raeburn, Elizabeth. “The Controversy over Autism’s Most Common Therapy.” Spectrum, 10 Aug. 2016

Dunn W (2001) The sensations of everyday life: empirical, theoretical, and pragmatic considerations. American Journal of Occupational Therapy 55(6): 608–620.

Ellcessor, Elizabeth. “Cyborg Hoaxes: Disability, Deception, and Critical Studies of Digital Media.” New Media & Society, vol. 19, no. 11, 2017, pp. 1761–1777.

Ellis K and Kent M (2010) Disability and New Media. New York: Routledge.

Gaines, Kristi. Designing for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.

Gibson, James J 1986. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. New York, Hove UK: Psychology Press.

Geurts KL (2015) Senses. In: Adams R, Reiss B and Serlin D (eds) Keywords for Disability Studies. New York: New York University Press, pp. 161–163.

Granter, Edward, et al. “Extreme Work/Normal Work: Intensification, Storytelling and Hyper-mediation in the (Re)Construction of ‘the New Normal.’” Organization, vol. 22, no. 4, July 2015, pp. 443–56

Gruson-Wood, Julia. “Autism, Expert Discourses, and Subjectification: A Critical Examination of Applied Behavioural Therapies.” Studies in Social Justice, vol. 10, no. 1, Jan. 2016, p. n/a.

Goggin, Gerard. “Disability and Haptic Mobile Media.” New Media & Society, vol. 19, no. 10, 2017, pp. 1563–1580.

Goggin, Gerald and Newell C (2003) Digital Disability: The Social Construction of Disability in New Media. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.

Goggin, Gerald and Newell, C. J. (2005) Introduction: The intimate relations between technology and disability. Disability Studies Quarterly, 25 2&3: 1-4.

Hacking I (2010) “Autism fiction: a mirror of an Internet decade?” University of Toronto Quarterly 79(2): 632–655.

Han, Yvonne M. Y., and Agnes S. Chan. “Disordered Cortical Connectivity Underlies the Executive Function Deficits in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Research in Developmental Disabilities, vol. 61, 2017, pp. 19–31.

Jeffries, Tricia, et al. “Evaluating a Tablet Application and Differential Reinforcement to Increase Eye Contact in Children with Autism.” Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, vol. 49, no. 1, 2016, pp. 182–187.

Kaplan, Jonas. “Executive Function in Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2017.

Kirby AV, Boyd BA, Williams KL, et al. (2017) Sensory and repetitive behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder at home. Autism 21(2): 142–154.

Kuehn, Bridget M. “Environment and Autism.” JAMA, vol. 306, no. 8, Aug. 2011, pp. 815–815.

Jennifer & Autsitic Self-Advocacy Network, “JRC Survivor Speaks Out” (November 2014) Accessed via Internet Archive

Lamarca, Kristen, et al. “Facilitating Neurofeedback in Children with Autism and Intellectual Impairments Using TAGteach.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Jan. 2018.

Landon, Jason, et al. “A Qualitative Study of Noise Sensitivity in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, vol. 32, 2016, pp. 43–52.

Lovaas, O. Ivar. “Behavioral Treatment and Normal Educational and Intellectual Functioning in Young Autistic Children.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, vol. 55, Feb. 1987, p. 3.

McCarthy, John, and Peter Wright. “Technology as Experience.” Interactions, vol. 11, no. 5, Sept. 2004, pp. 42–43.

Moutier, S. “Improving Executive Function Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Example of a New Executive Training Protocol Based on LearnEnjoy Digital Apps.” European Psychiatry, vol. 30, no. 8, 2015, pp. S56–S56.

Nagib, Wasan, and Allison Williams. “Toward an Autism-Friendly Home Environment.” Housing Studies, vol. 32, no. 2, Feb. 2017, pp. 140–167.

Ng, L. E. “Technology as an Extension of the Self: Socialising through Technology for Young People with Autism.” Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 10290, Springer Verlag, 2017, pp. 393–402

Noys, B. (2013) Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism. Winchester: Zero Books.

Ochs, Elinor. “Corporeal Reflexivity and Autism.” Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, vol. 49, no. 2, 2015, pp. 275–287.

Owada, Keiho et al. “Computer-Analyzed Facial Expression as a Surrogate Marker for Autism Spectrum Social Core Symptoms.” PLoS ONE, vol. 13, no. 1, p. e0190442.

Parker, Sydney. “Autism: Does ABA Therapy Open Society’s Doors to Children, or Impose Conformity?” The Guardian, 20 Mar. 2015,

Paterson, Mark. “On Haptic Media and the Possibilities of a More Inclusive Interactivity.” New Media & Society, vol. 19, no. 10, 2017, pp. 1541–1562.

Pinchevski A and Peters JD (2016) Autism and new media: disability between technology and society. New Media & Society 18(11): 2507–2523.

Pink S (2015b) Doing Sensory Ethnography. 2nd ed. London: SAGE.

Richardson I (2010) Faces, interfaces, screens: relational ontologies of framing, attention and dis- traction. Transformations: Journal of Media, Culture & Technology 18.

Ringland KE, Boyd L, Faucett H, et al. (2017) Making in Minecraft: a means of self-expression for youth with autism. In: Proceedings

Robison, John Elder. (2007) Look Me In The Eye. NY: Three Rivers Press.

Rosenthal, Michael, et al. “Impairments in Real-World Executive Function Increase From Childhood to Adolescence in Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Neuropsychology, vol. 27, no. 1, 2013, pp. 13–18.

Sahin, Ned T., et al. “Second Version of Google Glass as a Wearable Socio-Affective Aid: Positive School Desirability, High Usability, and Theoretical Framework in a Sample of Children with Autism.” JMIR Human Factors, vol. 5, no. 1, 2018, p. E1.

Sarrett, Jennifer. “Autism and Accommodations in Higher Education: Insights from the Autism Community.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 48, no. 3, 2018, pp. 679–693.

Schreibman, Laura Ellen. The Science and Fiction of Autism. Harvard University Press, 2005.

Singer, J (1999) Why can’t you be normal for once in your life? In: Cocker, M, French, S (eds) Disability Discourse. Buckingham: Open University Press, pp. 59–67.

Spiel, Katharina, et al. “Experiences of Autistic Children with Technologies.” International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, vol. 11, 2017, pp. 50–61.

Stone, Bessie G., et al. “Online Multiplayer Games for the Social Interactions of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Resource for Inclusive Education.” International Journal of Inclusive Education, Jan. 2018, pp. 1–20.

Sundberg, Martin. “Online Gaming, Loneliness and Friendships among Adolescents and Adults with ASD.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 79, 2018, pp. 105–110

Sweeney, S. “Apps That Ease Assessment of ASD and Social Learning Apps Can Aid Your Data-Gathering on Students with Autism and Other Social Learning Issues.” ASHA Leader, vol. 23, no. 3, Mar. 2018

Syahputra, M. F., et al. “Augmented Reality Social Story for Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Journal of Physics: Conference Series, vol. 978, Mar. 2018, p. 012040

Trevisan, Dominic A., et al. “How Do Adults and Teens with Self-Declared Autism Spectrum Disorder Experience Eye Contact? A Qualitative Analysis of First-Hand Accounts.” PLoS ONE, vol. 12, no. 11, Nov. 2017.

Vivanti, Giacomo, et al. “Social Attention, Joint Attention and Sustained Attention in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Williams Syndrome: Convergences and Divergences.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 47, no. 6, 2017, pp. 1866–1877.

Whalen, C., & Schriebman, L. (2003). Joint attention training for children with autism using behavior modification procedures. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 44, 456–468.