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American Journal of Bioethics.

Like Autism, Representation Falls on a Spectrum

We live in a representative democracy. We presumably have the franchise to elect who will represent our interests. Moreover, we live in a society with a range of organizations that advocate for certain causes and represent the interests of a variety of stakeholders. The autism “community” is no different. Yet, no monolithic set of interests represents all the members of the autism community. A great deal of heterogeneity exists, among stakeholders and among representatives of those interests. Not surprisingly, tensions exist. The range of peer commentaries in response to McCoy et al.’s target article, “Ethical Advocacy across the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Partial Representation” makes clear the divisiveness in the autism community. Disagreement exists over whether autism is a disorder or disease necessitating treatment or cure, a disability that requires a civil rights approach, or whether it is a difference—a form of neurodiversity. This debate over categorization goes beyond mere taxonomy, as this will determine whether autism should be addressed through a biomedical model or a social/holistic model. While these views may seem completely apposite, they can be viewed as illustrative of the spectrum of autism itself.

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Volume 20, Issue 4
April 2020

Target Articles.

Ethical Advocacy Across the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Partial Representation Matthew S. McCoy, Emily Y. Liu, Amy S. F. Lutz & Dominic Sisti