An Exceptional Path: An Ethnographic Narrative Reflecting on Autistic Parenthood from Evolutionary, Cultural, and Spiritual Perspectives:

Dawn Eddings Prince

Abstract

As the recognition of Autism Spectrum Disorder has increased, professionals and academics have theorized its epidemiology and pathology. As valuable as those perspectives are, rarely is the voice of the autistic person heard as a source of understanding. In this ethnographic article, I share my story as a person on the spectrum. I hope to illuminate not the disability of autism, but the reward of the struggle and the gifts that are part of a different way of being. As I reflect on the transformations that have occurred in my life, it becomes clear that my most important role is that of a mother to a son who would himself be diagnosed as autistic in a different context. This narrative offers thoughts about the complex challenges of living with autism—not only from a professional and academic standpoint but also from a deeply human one as well. [autism spectrum disorder, belonging, motherhood, experience]