This project began with a chance meeting at an MIT workshop and an exhilarating introduction to the worlds of autism research, treatment, and advocacy. Without Martha Herbert’s help and encouragement, I would never have been able to conduct this research or write this book. I hope that I have done justice to the generosity she showed in welcoming me into her life and work.
Susan Lindee, my mentor and chair of my dissertation committee, is an inspiration. She continues to teach me about what it means to be both a scholar and a good person, and her own work on emotional knowledge and biomedicine has informed every part of this project. The other members of my dissertation committee, Robert Kohler and Joe Dumit, provided invaluable input at key moments. A Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the Department of Education supported my graduate work, and the first two years of work on this book were funded by a Mellon Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University’s Science & Technology Studies Department.
Writing this book depended on the passion, intellectual openness, and kindness of researchers, advocates, and parents who willingly shared their work. I am grateful in particular to everyone associated with ARI/Defeat Autism Now! conferences and to Jacquelyn Sanders. Researchers made time in their schedules to explain the technical details of their studies. Owners of laboratories walked me through their facilities. Physicians allowed me into their offices and homes. Librarians at the University of Chicago Special Collections and Yale University Manuscripts and Archives Collection offered guidance in navigating their collections. As this book makes clear, I am in awe of many of the parents that I met. Their devotion to their children and their intellectual creativity and resourcefulness animate this book.
I shared portions of this book at a number of institutions, workshops and conferences: the “Lively Politics” conference at UC Irvine in November 2004, the Hastings Center, the BIOS Centre at the London School of