Interview with Paul Collins and Jennifer Elder

Filed Under (autism) by Estee on 17-05-2010

This is an interview with Paul Collins, author of Not Even Wrong: Adventures of Autism and Jennifer Elder. While we might shy away from citing autism as a “mystery” in that the term can alienate and separate autistic individuals from “other humans,” I don’t think Jennifer and Paul mean it that way, necessarily.

I like Paul’s comment on Morgan’s taking in the environment as “cultural artifact.” I know of many artists and thinkers and collectors who consider the environment similarly. While our autistic children seem to take in information systematically again, I have to wonder if how we see autism is the way that autistic people see themselves. Temple Grandin helps us understand this encyclopedic and visual approach to learning. We also have learned about autism as a sensory-learning (Tito Mukhopadhyay and others) of the environment.

Enjoy the listen:

Speaking of “cultural artifacts” and the visual world, I found this really great video on the object-world done for an artist’s porfolio. Note how the objects are lined up and the image that is then created. What then, might the difference really be in being autistic and the visual world when so many of us are inclined visually? Is it safe to categorize autistic people solely as visual learners? Or, as Collins and Elder suggest briefly, is autism just an accentuation of human traits that exist in every one of us?


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.