Imagine Otherwise: Meryl Alper on Autistic Kids’ Digital Media

Sep 20, 2023Podcast

A new episode of Imagine Otherwise just dropped!

In episode 155 of Imagine Otherwise, I talk with disability media studies scholar Meryl Alper about the digital lives of diverse young people on the autism spectrum. 

Meryl is the author of 3 books about how kids with disabilities use digital technologies, and her most recent book is ​​Kids Across the Spectrums: Growing Up Autistic in the Digital Age

Kids Across the Spectrums is out now from MIT Press and it is the first book-length ethnography of the digital lives of diverse young people on the autism spectrum.

In our conversation, Meryl and I chat about how autistic and neurodivergent youth and their families resist popular assumptions about their media use while also using digital technologies like TikTok, Scratch, and YouTube to build community, explore identity, and learn new skills.

Meryl also shares some behind-the-scenes context about how she navigated ethnographic research during the pandemic and found the spark for this current book in some of her earlier research.

We delve into why moral panics over how autistic kids use media often index broader cultural anxieties over how technology is altering society and what it means for the actual youth caught in the middle of these debates.

We close out the episode with how Meryl imagines otherwise to help build a more just future that centers the worldviews, needs, and desires of neurodivergent and disabled youth.
You can catch the full episode on your favorite podcast player or the Ideas on Fire website here: Meryl Alper on Autistic Kids’ Digital Media

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