1st Edition

The Rise of Autism Risk and Resistance in the Age of Diagnosis

By Ginny Russell Copyright 2021
    202 Pages 38 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    202 Pages 38 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780429285912, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

    This innovative book addresses the question of why increasing numbers of people are being diagnosed with autism since the 1990s. Providing an engaging account of competing and widely debated explanations, it investigates how these have led to differing interpretations of the same data. Crucially, the author argues that the increased use of autism diagnosis is due to medicalisation across the life course, whilst holding open the possibility that the rise may also be partly accounted for by modern-day environmental exposures, again, across the life course.

    A further focus of the book is not on whether autism itself is valid as a diagnostic category, but whether and how it is useful as a diagnostic category, and how the utility of the diagnosis has contributed to the rise. This serves to move beyond the question of whether diagnoses are 'real' or social constructions, and instead asks: who do diagnoses serve to benefit, and at what cost do they come?

    The book will appeal to clinicians and health professionals, as well as medical researchers, who are interested in a review of the data which demonstrates the rising use of autism as a diagnosis, and an analysis of the reasons why this has occurred. Providing theory through which to interpret the expanding application of the diagnosis and the broadening of autism as a concept, it will also be of interest to scholars and students of sociology, philosophy, psychiatry, psychology, social work, disability studies and childhood studies.


    1. Establishing the trend

    PART I: ‘Artefactual’

    2. Babies and infants

    3. Children

    4. Adults

    5. Women on the verge of the autism spectrum

    6. Beyond the living

    PART II: ‘Real’

    7. Epidemiology and lay epidemiology

    8. Risks during conception, pregnancy and birth

    9. Factors during infancy, childhood and adulthood

    10. Diagnosis



    Ginny Russell is Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, in the UK. She co-leads the Health and Illness theme at Egenis (the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences) in the College of Social Science and International Studies, as well as co-leading the Epidemiology and Qualitative Research stream of ChYMe (the Children and Young People’s Mental Health collaboration) based at the College of Medicine and Health.