STORIES & SERIES: AUTISM (Morocco)
Autism is one of the new millennium’s most significant global public health issues. Once considered a rare and restricted childhood mental illness and diagnosed only in upper- and middle-class European and American children, autism has become a broad and encompassing spectrum of developmental disorders. Once marginal and parochial, autism is now paradigmatic and increasingly global. Yet little is known about the experience of people with autism and their kin outside of Euro-American contexts. Despite increased attention by the global community, there are still far too few representations – whether popular, artistic or academic, textual or visual – exploring autism outside of the U.S. and Europe. Morocco is the site of an important experiment in global autism understanding. Since 1999, an increasing number of French and Moroccan parent organizations have been raising public awareness, training a new cadre of experts, and creating an infrastructure for detecting, diagnosing and educating children as autistic. This project aims to stimulate and illuminate discussion about autism in North Africa and beyond by visually exploring how the label itself – its meanings, definitions, uses, enactments – change and respond to complex social and subjective processes initiated by its introduction within contexts of Moroccan social life.