© 2016

Creativity and Community among Autism-Spectrum Youth

Creating Positive Social Updrafts through Play and Performance

  • Peter Smagorinsky


  • Highly original contributions to the field of disability, critical disability, and post-disability studies

  • Shares successful practices for supporting creative play and performance and constructing communities of inclusion for people of atypical neurological makeups

  • Introduces to a broader audience the potential of positive social updrafts to help youth of mental health difference to navigate their worlds with greater confidence and support

  • Interdisciplinary examination of autism through lenses of education, psychology, and performance studies


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Theoretical Framework

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Peter Smagorinsky
      Pages 3-31
    3. Peter Smagorinsky
      Pages 33-49
    4. Peter Smagorinsky
      Pages 51-76
  3. Deliberately Crafted Activity Settings

  4. Mainstream Activity Niches

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 293-301

About this book


This edited volume explores the roles of socially-channeled play and performance in the developmental trajectories of young people who fall on the autism spectrum. The contributors offer possibilities for channels of activity through which youth on the autism spectrum may find acceptance, affirmation, and kinship with others. “Positive social updraft” characterizes the social channels through which people of difference might be swept up into broader cultural currents such that they feel valued, appreciated, and empowered. A social updraft provides cultural meditational means that include people in a current headed “upward,” allowing people of atypical makeups to become fully involved in significant cultural activity that brings them a feeling of social belonging.


Mental health mental illness defectology play performance positive social updraft autism community creativity youth

Editors and affiliations

  • Peter Smagorinsky
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

About the editors

Peter Smagorinsky is Distinguished Research Professor of English Education at The University of Georgia, USA. His research considers the notion of “mental health” in terms of cultivating the assets of people of anomalous frames of mind.

Bibliographic information


“This book is written from a commitment to social justice and respect for the values of diversity and difference. With its motto ‘mediation instead of medication,’ the book offers fresh insights into the role of social context in the development of people diagnosed with various ‘disorders.’  This is a much welcome journey at a time when too many scholars believe in narrowly based, instrumentalist solutions for the quandaries we face.” (Anna Stetsenko, Professor, Psychology/Human Development and Urban Education, The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, USA)

“This book provides a much needed breathe of fresh air in conversations about Autism.  In this edited volume,  Smagorinsky has put together a set of chapters that challenge current conceptions of deficits, diagnosis, and disorder by providing multiple examples of the human capacity to play, perform, and collectively create new forms of life that are not over-determined by the societal identities and labels that keep everyone from developing.” (Carrie Lobman, Associate Professor of Education, Rutgers University, USA)

“This groundbreaking book heralds the end of the shameful era in which young autistic persons are subjected to traumatic Behaviorist ‘therapies’ to make them conform to non-autistic norms. Smagorinsky and colleagues offer exciting new practices to foster genuine, long-term well-being and empowerment in autistic youth.” (Nick Walker, autistic author, educator, speaker, and aikido teacher)