Autism’s conceptualization: A critical examination
Autism has long been considered as a genetic disorder, with which one is born and which persists throughout the lifetime. As such it is different from how other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD, are conceptualized. Since quite some time, it has been known that genes cannot suffice to explain its etiology, and that environmental and psychosocial factors contribute to its phenotype. Moreover, in philosophy of biology, a more dynamic view on human biology has emerged during the last decades. In this project we will analyze the conceptualization of autism as genetic, innate and lifelong in a subset of the corpus of genetic studies in autism, the scientific corpus about the role of early psychosocial factors in the development of autism, and longitudinal studies. We will use a vignette study to query how and why autism researchers in Western Europe conceptualize autism, and whether there is a difference with ADHD. We will interview senior autism researchers to query their opinion and experiences regarding the conceptualization of autism. As a conclusion, we will investigate how a view on autism that incorporates a dynamic vision on autism affects clinical practice.