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Kristien Hens

Published On


Page Range

pp. 65-80

Print Length

15 pages

5. Difference and Disability

This chapters introduces the neurodiversity approach and describes different models and approaches of disability, such as the medical model, the social model and crip theory. It argues that we cannot subdivide autistic people based on criteria of functioning alone to draw ethical conclusions. Instead, philosophers and ethicists must re-examen their intuitions regarding concepts of autonomy and what it means to lead a good life. We may define autism, in all its forms, perhaps in analogy with Elizabeth Barnes’ minority body, as a minority brain. In this way, we do not have to deny that some autistic people suffer from some aspects related to autism. Nevertheless, we also acknowledge that this does not necessarily have to be so. Simultaneously, a poststructuralist approach such as ‘Reading Rosie’ demonstrates that people with specific disabilities can always ‘be read’ in different ways, in various stories that can be juxtaposed but do not have to annihilate one another. In short, we can learn from disability studies that we must take first-person perspectives seriously and shy away from quick assumptions about well-being and happiness based on broad categories such as intelligence or autism.


Kristien Hens

University of Antwerp