The Conversation Continues: When it Comes to Autism, Can We Reconcile the Medical and Social Models of Disability?

July 18, 2023

On June 15, I (Jason Folger, PhD) had the pleasure of re-convening nearly all of the panelists and speakers from the NE Regional Spring LEND Conference of May 8: When it Comes to Autism, Can We Reconcile the Medical and Social Models of Disability?  The conference focused on the idea of exploring and reconciling the polarized ideas circulating in popular media that celebrating one’s neurodiversity as an autistic person somehow diminishes or invalidates the emotional pain of caregivers of individuals living with what has come to be known as “profound autism” and vice-versa. 

We agreed that, given the important ideas and meaningful discussions generated by the conference, it would be of value to try to recreate them as a reflective interview in written form for our greater LEND, UCEDD, and AUCD community.  We are hardly the first to call for reconciliation and healing around this topic, but I could not be prouder of how these speakers and panelists – a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, people with lived experience, and parents of individuals with autism – came together to so thoughtfully discuss and wrestle with these important issues. With that, please allow me to re-introduce the speakers and panelists and let you dive into this article and interview transcript.  For the presenters’ and panelists’ full bios, click here.