Models of helping and coping with autism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Much controversy surrounds the meaning of autism and how to help autistic people and their families cope with related challenges. This analysis compares four classic attribution models of moral responsibility for the causes of and solutions to problems, using for each model an example from how parents or autistic people have viewed and addressed autism. Accordingly, under the new application of the moral model, parents have been wrongly blamed for causing autism, isolating and sometimes breaking apart families. Parents led a paradigm shift to the medical model, under which neither parents nor autistic people are at fault for autism’s emergence, and they must seek help from medical authorities to treat it using practices based in dehumanisation and dependency. Autistic people feel ashamed and must submit to authorities for intervention under the enlightenment model yet resist or dislike stigmatising and controlling help. Many autistics have turned to the neurodiversity movement, under which disability mainly lies in society’s oppression and they must self-advocate to improve their lives, consistent with the compensatory model. Neurodiversity offers the strongest approach to improve quality of life because it empowers autistic people to seek support on their own terms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Critical Autism Studies
EditorsDamian Milton, Sara Ryan
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003056577
ISBN (Print)9780367521073
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks


  • autism
  • attribution
  • responsibility
  • helping
  • coping
  • moral model
  • medical model
  • neurodiversity
  • self-advocacy


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