Narratives of Distinction: Personal Life Narrative as a Technology of the Self in the Everyday Lives and Relational Worlds of Children with Autism



Abstract Over the years, children with autism have often been portrayed in the professional literature and the popular media as asocial creatures bereft of words and subjective worldviews. Alternatively, I examine the lived contexts in which children with autism spectrum disorders actively engage with family members in coconstructed narrative recountings of personal life events, and are apprenticed into culturally consonant genres of life narrative as a technology of the self. Employing naturalistic video- and audio-taped data documenting the everyday lives of 17 U.S. children diagnosed with high functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome, I demonstrate how everyday narratives of personal experience offer a vehicle for expression of the children's subjective life worlds and a venue for self-presentation and intersubjective attunement in which social and moral distinctions of normativity and difference are at stake. These deeply interactive self-fashioning processes highlight and make visible the dynamic intersubjective practices that contribute to human subjectivity. [autism, children, narrative, self, sociality]