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Motherhood and Autism

Author Eilidh Campbell
Publisher SCM £25
Format pbk
ISBN 9780334061502

From blissfully contented newborn to an unsleeping, inconsolable nine month old – the stuff of nightmares – as it proved to be for the author, a theologian whose son was diagnosed with autism, aged six. Her experiences, and those of others, bring uncertainty, fear and grief. The book divides into three sections: autism and ambiguity; normalcy, stigma and disability and finally, mothering a child on the autistic spectrum, including motherly guilt and conflict. This is an academic book, but deals with the distress and exhaustion of mothers who cannot always live up to the Madonna model when faced with apparently unending violent, disruptive, anti-social behaviour. ‘What do I understand by “normal”? How do I approach what I perceive as “abnormal”? Whom do I ignore, devalue exclude and stigmatise? How do the disabled live in an abled world? How can I understand love that shows little or no affection or empathy? Crucially, how can we support the carers of autistics?’ This is not a comfortable book, but please read it. It is good and humbling to be challenged by what cannot be contained.

Reviewed by ROSIE BUDD

Theology of disability