Does the study of culture enrich our understanding of autism? A cross-cultural exploration of life on the spectrum in Japan and the West

GRAY ATHERTON, Yuko Morimoto, Satoshi Nakashima, LIAM CROSS

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Abstract

Autism spectrum condition is a neurodevelopmental condition in which people are characterised by their social differences. As such, autistic behaviors are often identified as deviating from what are considered normal or neurotypical ways of interacting with the world as dictated by a particular culture. This theoretical paper explores a cultural model of disability concerning autism spectrum condition and how Western ideals of ‘normality’ dominate autism-related discourses. To illustrate this point, DSM-5 descriptors are discussed concerning Western and, in contrast, Japanese cultural practices. Cross-cultural research from several domains reveals the subjectivity inherent to what is considered ‘normal’ across cultures. Additionally, research into the prevalence and lived experiences of autistic people and their families in Japan reveals the complexity of understanding neurodevelopmental conditions in non-Western countries. The paper discusses autism in the context of culture and suggests further areas for cross-cultural research that can further build on the cultural model of disability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-55
Number of pages55
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Early online date7 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 May 2023

Keywords

  • autism
  • Japan
  • Cultural psychology
  • social development
  • neurodiversity

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