Compare ASD with another mental disorder: how do biology and culture interact to shape the disorder?

Pick one of the topics below and write a research paper about it. Must include reference to at least 3 readings from the syllabus, and 3 additional articles (or a book).

The idea is for you to delve into a topic of your choosing, while relating it back to central ideas presented in the course.


1. Present an evaluation of a particular treatment: What are its scientific bases? What tools have been used to assess it? What components of ASD does it treat well, and which aspects of the lives of individuals with ASD and their families/caregivers does it fail to address?
2. Compare ASD with another mental disorder: how do biology and culture interact to shape the disorder? In what ways is ASD similar/different from this other disorder? ( I chose this one!)

3. Examine autism in a particular cultural (or ethnic) context: What are the prevalence rates? What are the barriers to diagnosis and care? What treatments/interventions have been tested in this context?

4. Present a critical reading of an autobiography of a person with ASD, or a body of art, poems etc (e.g., Temple Grandin, Donna Williams, Tito Mukhopadhyay). The autobiography will count instead of the 3 additional required readings. In what ways does their description fit with existing theories and findings? In what ways is their experience unique, or goes beyond existing research? In what ways have advancements in diagnosis and treatment impacted their life? I recommend reading one of the autobiographies listed here (under Autistic authors):

5. Empirical study: conduct an interview with an individual with ASD, or conduct an ethnographic observation of individuals with autism – in what ways are their views and behaviors similar/different from those in scientific descriptions? How do they view their identity? What are their challenges? What are their strengths? Relate these to the course readings.

6. Present a review of 3 recent empirical papers in ASD on a topic of your choosing – on biology, psychology, culture etc.


Title page; Main text – 5 pages of double-spaced 12-point font text (strict limit); References (no page limit). All pages should have regular, 1” margins.

Suggested breakdown of your 5 main pages of text:

1. Introduction (1/2 to 1 page): What topic will you be addressing? What is known? What is yet unknown (your questions)? What will the paper set out to do?

2. Pages ~2-4: Sections 1-3, sub-topics relating to the larger topic (~1 page each).


a. ABA therapies: a) history; b) current usage and impact; c) critiques

b. Comparison with ADHD: a) definitions and comorbidity; b) comparison of psychological functions; c) comparison of brain and genetic functions