The SSP Research Seminar Series welcomes PhD candidate Sidarth Shankar

The School of Sociology and Social Policy is delighted to welcome PhD candidate Sidarth Shankar for the final event in our latest research seminar series.

Speaker: Sidharth Shankar, PhD candidate, School of Sociology and Social Policy
Chair: Dr Kim Allen
Title: Stigma and childhood autism experiences of parents/guardians in Kerala, India 


This paper is part of an ongoing research that uncovers the complexities of childhood autism, diversity of experiences and cultural factors that determine barriers impeding access to information and services among parents/guardians across the sociodemographic terrain (gender, access to resources and caste) in Kerala, India. Robust intersectional sociological autism research in India, and elsewhere, remains scarce and most existing data reside primarily in clinical studies, with an overwhelming focus on clinical interventions.

The objective of this project is to address the gap in knowledge by investigating how micro level practices and structural stigma can impact on the social experiences of parents/guardians of autistic children and create social barriers. This is conceptualised through unequal social interactions, as well as the social implications of impairments, which are theorised within the social relational model of disability. The fieldwork was completed over a 6-month period and entailed the use of semistructured interviews with 32 parents/guardians of autistic children aged between 3-10 years. The data generated asserts the significant influence of gender norms and access to resources (economic, social and cultural) on parental experiences of stigma, blame and shame associated with autism. The caste identity of an individual also remains a factor. The intersectional analysis highlights the complex stigmatising experiences of parents, affecting their social participation and psycho-emotional well-being. Thus, this paper aims to extend discussions within academia, sociology and policy by exploring sociological childhood autism experiences of parents/guardians in a developing nation using an intersectional framework. By doing so, the paper intends to contribute to broader autism debates. 

Speaker Bio

Sid Shankar is a third-year PhD candidate in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds. He received his Bachelors degree in social sciences from St. Gregory's University (Oklahoma, USA) and a Masters degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, USA). His passion and interest lies in disability studies, in particular autism experiences in the family. He is interested in learning more about intersectionality, social relational model of disability, and disability legislations. 


This is a free, online event and all are welcome. We look forward to seeing you there.

To join this event using Zoom, please use the following details:

Joining link:

Meeting ID: 810 6959 5483

Passcode: 6pDLH*