Document Type


Article Version


Publication Date



This paper examines the discourse of autism as we have experienced it as parents of an autistic six year-old girl. Because both authors are anthropologists, we were professionally trained to understand something of what discourses are and do. However, our training did not necessarily help us blunt the original force of the diagnosis. Over time we have come to understand both our daughter and the discourse that is said to define her differently, and these understandings have fed back into our understanding of our discipline. One key transformative event occurred when we took our family to live in a village where we had done previous research. This reminded us of the conceptual power of discourses: we put the discourse of autism to work for our own purposes, but at the same time it works on us, shapes us in ways we do not always realize.


Copyright 2010 Wiley

The definitive version is available at

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8322.2010.00738.x

Publication Title

Anthropology Today

Published Citation

Haldane, Hillary and Crawford, David L. “What Lula Lacks: Grappling with the Discourse of Autism at Home and in the Field” Anthropology Today. Vol. 26, No.3. Pp. 24-26. 2010.



Peer Reviewed