Society for Psychological Anthropology

Paras Arora, Stanford University

A Home Away from Home: Familial & Institutional Care for Autistic Adults in India

This project promises to ethnographically attend to the ways in which families of autistic individuals grapple with the ageing and continued dependency of autistic adults in the absence of state-mandated social support in Delhi, India. Ever since Autism became acknowledged as a separate diagnostic category in the late 1980s in India, the trajectory of early diagnosis, early rehabilitation, and early outcome became a popular curative strategy which was prescribed to distressed families. Yet a majority of autistic individuals and their families fell out of this curative and rehabilitative timeline due to a lack of access to appropriate care services. As the earliest diagnosed autistic individuals began entering their adulthood in 2010s, their families began experimenting with the regimen, temporality, and location of care work that now had to perform for autistic individuals as adults. By ethnographically mapping the sites of these experiments with care, that is, residential care facilities for autistic individuals, this project promises to theorize autism as a shared condition, care as an experiment in ethics, and family as a contested and capacious mode of being. And through experiments with ethnography itself, the project seeks to chronicle the ways in which autistic individuals’ own aspirations, relations, and commitments unsettle these familial experiments with care.