As autism receives increasing popular, political, medical, and rhetorical attention, it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve any sort of consensus on what "autism" actually is. Is it a purely medical or psychological designator? Is it an impairment, a disability, both, neither? Is it simply another way of being-in-the-world that though different is not deficient?
These questions and ones like them locate autism at the confluence of multiple, often competing, discourses. The purpose of this panel is to explore, trace, and problematize the discursive borders that seek to define and delimit "autism" and try to understand in some small way what we can learn about how and why these discourses crash together in sometimes explosive ways.