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Motherhood and Autism

An Embodied Theology of Motherhood and Disability

Motherhood and Autism

An Embodied Theology of Motherhood and Disability

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Publisher: SCM Press
ISBN: 9780334061502
Number of Pages: 208
Published: 29/10/2021
Width: 13.5 cm
Height: 21.6 cm

While autism is gaining increasing attention as an important subject of theological inquiry, the maternal experience of caring for a child with autism has had less attention. Traversing issues of gender, embodiment, disability and motherhood, this book explores the distinctness of mothering within the context of autism, examining how theology currently responds to the challenges this lived experience presents.

Weaving together an honest reflection on her own experience with analysis of contemporary theological works on disability and motherhood, Eilidh Campbell reflects on mothering, and especially mothering of autistic children, as a unique site of struggle and resistance.

Acknowledgements ix

Prologue: The Beginning xi

Introduction xiii

Part 1: Autism, Ambiguity and Unusual Beginnings

1 Autism: An Enduring Enigma 5

2 Causes for Conflict – Theories as to the Origins of Autism 15

3 The ‘Triad’: Difference, Distinctions and Diagnosis 27

4 From Uncertainty to …? 36

5 Diagnosis: A Spectrum of Emotions 41

6 ‘The Power of Naming’: Who Wears the Label? 51

Part 2: Disability, Normalcy and Stigma

7 Disability and the ‘Other’: The Social Construction of Normalcy 59

8 Autism, Disability and ‘Lives Unworthy’ 66

9 Autism, Invisibility and the Problem of ‘Passing’ 69

10 Averted Gazes: Living with Stigma 76

11 Disabled Bodies, Able World? 83

12 Struggling for Support 94

Part 3: ‘Every day is a battle’ – Mothers ‘en la lucha’

13 Refrigerator Mothers: Too Cold to Care? 116

14 A Mother’s Work is Never Done: Struggle in the Everyday 131

15 Necessity is the Mother of Invention: ‘Maternal Thinking’ and Neglected Sites of Knowledge 148

16 Lived Experience in Practical Theology: Knowing Your Limits 163

Conclusion: ‘Pragmatic Unresolvement’ – Towards a New Theology of Struggle 175

Postscript: Micah’s Own Words 178

Bibliography 179

Index 191

Eilidh Campbell

Dr Eilidh Campbell is a practitioner theologian. A post-doctoral researcher at the University of Glasgow, she is also mental health support worker. She presents widely on her work, including at the Nordic School of theology and the BIAPT and SST conferences in the UK

"This book constructs its theological reflections out of experiences of mothering a child with autism. These are painful, relentlessly challenging and also contain revelatory insight and intense beauty. Campbell's profound work knots life narratives into a theology of struggle that speak to the distinctive challenges of mothering in the context of autism. It also speaks gracefully to those many other contexts in which passionate loving meets unresolvable circumstances and endures." -- Heather Walton

"Poignant and deeply considered, Eilidh Campbell's work offers important and challenging insights for disability theology. Bold scholarship is interspersed with scenes from own life and personal experience. Campbell does not retreat from the tensions and complexities of mothering a child with autism, instead bringing to light the need for "unresolved" theologies that pay attention to everyday experience. In doing so, Campbell reveals herself as a courageous, essential, and field-defining new voice. This book will deepen and extend our understandings of disability theologies, and it deserves to be read widely." -- Katie Cross