A spectrum of reflections: Exploring the autobiographical inquiries of adolescents with autism

Beth A Myers, University of Pennsylvania


This study investigates how adolescents with autism use autobiography to negotiate and co-construct their identities. This creation of multimodal autobiographical works took place in an afterschool inquiry group. Using practitioner inquiry in an ethnographic tradition, I examine how the teens created these works in the contexts of the group and the teens' experiences. I analyze the works created as well as the teens' interactions around this work in order to examine what it means to be a teenager with autism. This research looks at how the teens responded to expectations of and in the world around them, particularly in the context of the prevailing deficit model of autism. I also investigate how this group constructed their understandings of autism and how they represented these understandings in their works. ^ I argue that the teens in this study demonstrated an ability to create profound autobiographical works through which they located themselves and made personal connections. These findings focus on the group as a space for inquiry and the purposes that inquiry served for the teens to endure, resist, and reframe the oppressive experiences in their lives. These works created by the teens serve as a counter-practice, creating alternative narratives in which the adolescents negotiated assumptions about autism and managed their own identities. ^

Subject Area

Education, Special|Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

Myers, Beth A, "A spectrum of reflections: Exploring the autobiographical inquiries of adolescents with autism" (2012). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3510975.