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Drawing a line in the sand: affect and testimony in autism assessment teams in the UK

Hayes, J., McCabe, R. ORCID: 0000-0003-2041-7383, Ford, T. & Russell, G. (2020). Drawing a line in the sand: affect and testimony in autism assessment teams in the UK. Sociology of Health & Illness, 42(4), pp. 825-843. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.13063


Diagnosis of autism in the UK is generally made within a multidisciplinary team setting and is primarily based on observation and clinical interview. We examined how clinicians diagnose autism in practice by observing post‐assessment meetings in specialist autism teams. Eighteen meetings across four teams based in the south of England and covering 88 cases were audio‐recorded, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. We drew out two themes, related to the way in which clinicians expressed their specialist disciplinary knowledge to come to diagnostic consensus: Feeling Autism in the Encounter; and Evaluating Testimonies of Non‐present Actors. We show how clinicians produce objective accounts through their situated practices and perform diagnosis as an act of interpretation, affect and evaluation to meet the institutional demands of the diagnostic setting. Our study contributes to our understanding of how diagnosis is accomplished in practice.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: diagnosis, autism, sociology of diagnosis, discourse, thematic analysis, UK
Subjects: R Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
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