The Critical Autism Studies Network takes its membership from academic research staff across the University, including research students and autistic people from the different faculties and student body. This group uses their shared expertise, experiences and insight to inform discussion, approaches and decision making in relation to critical and autism positive approaches to autism. The members of the group draw on a social model of disability approach to their research and reject the medical model which views autism as a disordered way of being. The Network also rejects approaches or interventions which seek to ‘cure’ autism or modify natural autistic behaviours. Although focused on autism, the network encourages membership from individuals with an interest in other forms of cognitive difference, that sit under the umbrella of ‘neurodiversity’.
Edge Hill University is at the cutting edge of autism positive teaching through its Critical Autism Studies courses, embracing the Neurodiversity Movement, paving the way for a new understanding of Autism rejecting the Medical Model which focusses on individual disorder and so-called ‘deficiencies’.
The vast majority of global academic research about autism still follows the clinical and cognitive psychological route and continues to be focused on interventions and treatment of autism. Advocates of Critical Autism Studies reject that reinforces deficit models of autism.
Research Network has an ongoing brief to share and develop inclusive, co-produced research which challenges the perceived and problematic orthodoxy to promote better understanding and awareness of the disparities in the human rights, health and wellbeing and social exclusion a significant number of autistic people face.