Listening to Bedouin Mothers of Children with Autism

Iris Manor-Binyamini, Avihu Shoshana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This article examines how Bedouin mothers in Israel describe, perceive, and interpret their experiences raising a child with autism. Data were collected using semi-structured ethnographic interviews with 18 Bedouin mothers of children with autism, aged 6–16, living in recognized and unrecognized settlements in the Negev. Analysis of the study findings shows how the subaltern status of Bedouin women, which includes their husbands’ constant threats of divorce or taking a second wife, makes it difficult for them to be mobile and interact in the public sphere without the presence of a man and creates an experience unique to these mothers, which we call “Exclusion within Exclusion”. The Bedouin mothers report not only stigmatization, a lack of social support and loneliness but also structural–cultural characteristics that prevent them from obtaining information and participating in decision-making about the child with autism and that restrict their agency in dealing with and coping with their child’s autism. In light of this situation, the discussion highlights the unique connection between local cultural scripts and the phenomenology of autism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-418
Number of pages18
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Autism
  • Bedouin
  • Listening
  • Mothers


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