Autism, Through a Social Lens

Though sometimes reluctant to study genetic disabilities, sociologists are beginning to make important contributions to both public and medical understandings of autism. New understandings of autism have deep sociological roots and sociologists are well positioned to assess how autism is diagnosed and treated and why it appears to be so much more prevalent in recent decades. Sociological research also shows how families and other social institutions cope with the challenges associated with autism.

online resources

For a deeper look at life with autism, Stephen Poulson recommends the book and documentary, The Horse Boy, about a young autistic boy who responded well to therapeutic horse-riding. Poulson says:

“Sam,” about whom I wrote in the Contexts article, is weirdly at home on horses, too. So, the family took a trip to Mongolia and the father (a travel writer) wrote a book about the experience (it was filmed, too). The pictures of the trip (the meltdowns, the “special” toys brought along etc.) reminded me of the stress/satisfaction that occurs when Sam takes trips, too.

You can read a review of The Horse Boy in The New York Times here.