For some time now, the site Aspergia.com has pushed the culture model of Asperger's in a very provocative way. By arguing that individuals with spectrum disorders are a unique genetic pool with a unique neurology, they are attempting to "culture-ize" rather than "pathologize" this group. They welcome group identification as a means of connecting with each other and with their unique characteristics:
"I think it is time we thanked the researchers, theoreticians and professionals who helped identify the phenomena and make it public. The work of Dr Asperger and the follow up by the likes of Wing and Atwood has been pivotal in identifying that there is indeed a group of people who are born with a neurology which is inherently different to that of the general population. This group processes information differently, has a different set of social interactions and a wide variety of uncommon traits such as a high sensitivity to external stimuli."(www.aspergia.com)
I think that Roland Tharp and his colleagues at Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii did a much better job of utilizing a cultural model in the 1980's and 90's with their revolutionary approach to adapting educational practices to fit the local Hawaiian culture (rather than forcing the local culture to fit the dominant educational culture and its practices). Adapting to the smaller, less dominant culture is no easy task...in the case of Tharp's work, it required years of anthropological and psychological study of Hawaiian living and learning practices, and then experimenting with ways to incorporate these cultural "styles" in to workable educational programs.
In today's podcast, I begin to scratch the surface of cultural issues and Asperger's/Autism. I address the fundamental question of "Who changes?"
Click on the MP3 download below to listen:
Download pr9-10_complete.mp3 (9mins 04secs; 3.11MB)