Alice Scavarda

«Like penguins in the desert». Strategies of resistance to stigma of families with autistic and Down Syndrome children

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The article deals with the strategies of resistance to stigma of families with either autistic or Down Syndrome children. The qualitative study is based on 111 in-depth interviews to parents, young people and siblings and on the observation of two families, through shadowing technique, during their daily activities. Results present two main strategies of resistance to stigma: medicalisation and normalisation, both unable to represent a counter-narrative and to provide their children with positive role models. The impact of genetic discourse and the absence of a specific language to name and describe cognitive disability implies the difficulty to reverse the stigma into a form of charisma.


  • stigma
  • resistance
  • Autism
  • Down Syndrome


Article first page

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