The word itself was just one of many ideas in this work, her 1998 Honours thesis, a pioneering sociological work that mapped out the emergence of a new category of disability that, till then, had no name. And in the process, prefigured a new paradigm within the disability rights movement of the time.
The work attempted a panoramic view of this new terrain from within a post-modern, social constructionist, feminist, disability rights perspective. Its chapters encompassed a brief history of autism, self-exploration of Singer’s life in the middle of three generations of women “somewhere on the autistic spectrum” and her research as a participant-observer on InLv, an online community of people on the spectrum. At the same time it offered a critique of what Singer perceived to be a certain tendency towards social-constructionist fundamentalism within the disability movement, which, she argued, limited the potential of the new paradigm.
This volume reproduces the original thesis with the addition of a new introduction, which gives the background to the creation of the work and offers some thoughts on the current neurodiversity movement.