This post is in the Autoethnography category

The acceptance of an autoethnographic account has to be related to its ability to pass on new knowledge and insight to others – an established tenet of all academic research.  The outcomes and methods need to be well-defined, transparent and trustworthy. It should be genuine, “authentic”, trustworthy.

Further, Ellis argued in 1995 that autoethnographic story is valid not if it IS authentic, but if it evokes authenticity in the reader through its believable possibilities  (Ellis, 1995, p. 318). Authenticity in this respect is the generation of an evoked understanding, an empathy if you like, but the problem remains of the ability to transmit a relatively stable understanding through a conceptual framework1.

Richardson  (2000, pp. 254-255) defined five criteria for reviewing texts involving personal narrative.

a) Substantive contribution. Does the piece contribute to our understanding of social life?

(b) Aesthetic merit. Does this piece succeed aesthetically? Is the text artistically shaped, satisfyingly complex, and not boring?

(c) Reflexivity. How did the author come to write this text? How has the author’s subjectivity been both a producer and a product of this text?

(d) Impactfullness. Does this affect me emotionally and/or intellectually? Does it generate new questions or move me to action?

(e) Expresses a reality. Does this text embody a fleshed out sense of lived experience?

It is the intention of this document to satisfy these criteria, but also to incorporate further validity through the use of additional methods alongside autoethnography, including interview data, and by informing the autoethnographic process via the use of video and systematic self observation, thus countering the criticism of reliance on single data sources  (Sparkes, 2000).

The addition of Aesthetic Merit as a criteria for successful work is a major consideration in the development of this document, both to create a consistent and attractive aesthetic, but to harness that power to evoke experience.  The presentation as a website, with music, image and video, and a non-linear thought process embedded within it, is dealt with in a separate section of method.

  1. The irony of an autist as artist evoking an empathic response through the creation of a communicative document is not lost on me – See the related post for thoughts on this []

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