Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 401–418 | Cite as

Listening to Bedouin Mothers of Children with Autism

  • Iris Manor-BinyaminiEmail author
  • Avihu Shoshana
Original Paper


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.


Bedouin Mothers Autism Listening 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Ethical Approval

Research involving human participants and informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Special EducationUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Counseling and Human DevelopmentUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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