Confessions of a mad professor: An autoethnographic consideration of neuroatypicality, extranormativity, and education

  • Smagorinsky P
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Background/Context: This article considers issues related to the intersection of mental health and education. Typically, in both educational and noneducational settings, atypical mental health conditions are described and treated as “disorders.” The author challenges conventional understandings of mental health and how to address it, particularly in school settings. Purpose: The argument in this article is designed to make a case for greater understanding of extranormal mental health makeups and reconsider current understandings of normalcy. Focusing in particular on the experience of living with Asperger’s syndrome, this article orchestrates narrative data and prior scholarship to argue that conventional notions of normalcy require reconsideration as more is understood about the spectrum of possible makeups in broad and diverse populations. The author argues that notions of normalcy are social constructions and that reconstructions of conventional notions of normalcy could provide more inclusive settings for a wider range of people. Research Design: This article employs a version of narrative inquiry, autoethnography, to explore issues related to the intersection of mental health and education. The author describes, reflects on, and interprets a body of experiential knowledge both to illuminate the experience of living with an extranormative mental health makeup and consider the degree to which it serves as a deficit or disorder, as is commonly presumed. These experiences are placed in the context of empirical data from other studies to frame an argument regarding the spectrum of neurological makeups and its place in efforts toward inclusive and multicultural education.

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  • ISBN: 0161-4681
  • SGR: 80054983906
  • PUI: 362809702
  • SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-80054983906
  • ISSN: 01614681


  • P. Smagorinsky

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