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The Talking, Being, and Becoming, of Autism, Childhood, and Dis/ability

Smith, Jill C (2016) The Talking, Being, and Becoming, of Autism, Childhood, and Dis/ability. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis is a piece of Creative Analytic Practice which uses auto/ethnographic storytelling to dis/orientate autism, childhood, and dis/ability. Dis/orientation is a theoretical tool I developed through, and with, the thesis borrowing from Critical Disability Studies’ dis/humanism and Ahmed’s orientation in queer phenomenology. Dis/humanism both desires the human and rejects it at the same time; the vital and giddy experience of dis/orientation is both to be drawn towards a comfortable orientation and at once to reject its seductive temptation as a final resting place or single terrain when encountering lives lived as ‘autistic’ and ‘child’. All orientations to autism, childhood and dis/ability are the effects of repeated and often concealed actions over time which I argue are temporary and changeable, given time and dis/orientating labour. Herein lies the hopeful call of dis/orientation throughout this thesis. Ethnographic fieldwork took place with children and families at home, school, nursery, public spaces and a muddy allotment over an 18 month period. Stories of the fieldwork are told as both method of inquiry and analytical tool. Three analysis chapters respond to my research questions exploring the ‘talking’, ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ of autism, childhood, and dis/ability. I argue that through talk, autism becomes rhizomatic in families' lives and is shaped by, and shaping of, collective identity work, emotional labour, and the neuro-governance of everyday life in neoliberal, commodified times. I argue that some orientations make some beings and becomings of childhood's labelled autistic more im/possible than others. Most significantly, I claim that a turn to embodiment outside of Cartesianism is valuable to theory, policy, practice and research in recognising the potential ‘becomings’ of disabled children’s childhoods in which they exceed subjectivation as ‘autistic’ or ‘child’ with and through their bodies in everyday life.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.694152
Depositing User: Jill C Smith
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2016 09:41
Last Modified: 01 May 2020 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/14269

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