Reflections on 'autistic integrity'

Bioethics. 2012 Mar;26(3):164-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2010.01827.x. Epub 2010 May 17.


Autism, particularly its moderate to severe forms, has prompted considerable scientific study and clinical involvement because the associated behaviours imply disconnections with valued features of a 'good' life, such as close relationships, enjoyment, and adaptability. Proposed causes of autism involve potent philosophical concepts including consciousness, identity, mind, and relationality. The concept of autistic integrity is used by Barnbaum in The Ethics of Autism: Among Them, But Not of Them to help provide moral justification to stop efforts to cure adults with autism, especially if the cause is presumed to be a lack of a theory of mind.(1) This article has two goals: (1) to apply four familiar definitions or characterizations of integrity to the case of moderate to severe autism, and (2) to examine whether autistic integrity does provide the moral justification Barnbaum seeks.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Autistic Disorder / rehabilitation*
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Rehabilitation / ethics