Autism and new media: Disability between technology and society

Amit Pinchevski, John Durham Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the elective affinities between autism and new media. Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) provides a uniquely apt case for considering the conceptual link between mental disability and media technology. Tracing the history of the disorder through its various media connections and connotations, we propose a narrative of the transition from impaired sociability in person to fluent social media by network. New media introduce new affordances for people with ASD: The Internet provides habitat free of the burdens of face-to-face encounters, high-tech industry fares well with the purported special abilities of those with Asperger’s syndrome, and digital technology offers a rich metaphorical depository for the condition as a whole. Running throughout is a gender bias that brings communication and technology into the fray of biology versus culture. Autism invites us to rethink our assumptions about communication in the digital age, accounting for both the pains and possibilities it entails.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2507-2523
Number of pages17
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • autism (ASD)
  • computer-mediated communication
  • disability studies
  • gender and technology
  • interaction and technology
  • new media

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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