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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Autism, Empowerment, and Western Europe

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss international perspectives. Comparative public policy on autism services and research needs far more study.

Governments which design policies to empower marginalized groups contribute to reducing the democratic deficit in public policy and improve their efficacy, efficiency, and democratic credentials. This article uses fuzzy set ideal type analysis to propose three ideal types of policy design for political empowerment, according to whether the government views the target group as capable only of being Informed by experts, or of being Involved in policy, or even Empowered to co‐govern. An analysis of Western European autism policy illustrates and confirms the usefulness of the ideal types. England, Wales, and Denmark emerge as countries where governments have the highest expectations for political empowerment. Surprisingly, traditional disability policy groupings seem not to apply, with the UK split across Empowered and Involved, while Spain leaves its Informed Southern European counterparts to join the Involved cohort. This paper is a timely reminder of the importance of lived experience as a policy resource lived experience as a policy resource. 

From the article:

Autism policy has evolved as a discrete subset of disability policy in Western Europe over the past twenty years, with fifteen new autism policies arriving on the policy scene in response to concerns that autistic people were “falling through the gaps” of disability policy (Ravet, 2015). The neurodiversity movement argues that autistic people have untapped potential which remains unrealized due to a hostile environment (Arnold, 2017; Donaldson, Krejcha et al., 2017; Kapp, 2020; Kapp, 2013). If this is true, the autistic community has much to gain from empowerment, and their statistical over‐representation among the under‐employed, unemployed (Mavranezouli, Megnin‐Viggars et al., 2014), and those involved with the mental health (Maddox & Gaus, 2019) and criminal justice systems (King & Murphy, 2014) is all the more concerning.