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Claiming Disability Through Self-Advocacy

mheffern's picture

In the first chapter of "Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity," disability studies is defined as that which focuses on the external variables: "the social, political, and intellectual contingencies that shape meaning and behavior" (Claiming Disability, 6). In Melanie Yergeau's "I Stim, Therefore I Am," The Loud Hands Project, and S#!T Ignorant People Say to Autistics, space is created for individuals with autism to freely express their thoughts and behaviors. And, in acheiving this, Simi Linton's objective in studying disability is also encompassed, for the individuals in these videos call attention to not just themselves and their abilities, but to how others perceive them and their actions as well.

Neurodiversity and neurobiology

lindsey's picture

Ever since I began thinking about pursuing a career in neurobiology research, I've always had a really hard time grappling with my issues with the "cure" mentality with my inherent interest in studying neurodevelopment (the development of the brain).  In high school, I knew that I was really interested in genetics but was absolutely horrified when my guidance counselor suggested that I become a genetic counselor because I knew that I wouldn't be able to handle talking to prospective parents who wanted to terminate a pregnancy if their baby had Down syndrome.

Neurodiversity and cure

banana's picture

*I found this whole topic of Neurodiversity so though provoking
*This past winter break I spent a lot of time reading about the microbiome in the stomach and how it can affect our brain. I read this one book, Brain Maker by Dr. David Perlmutter, where it discussed cures for autism and other brain disorders. Of course during winter break when I was naive about this whole topic of neurodiversity, disability, and impairment I was like "Wow, this is cool." What if we lived in a world without autism? What if all brain disorders could be cured? 

BioArt, Representation, and Creativity

amweiner's picture

This week, I have been grappling with the idea of representation. I felt pretty intelectually confused after our bioart project. It felt weird to me that the we weren't giving our participants control over what they were going to make. Art is a way that they can express to the world, eachother, or themselves, how they interpret surroundings or what is going on in their head. This idea, as emphasized in the Disability Reader, is vital to proving that people, such as those on the autism spectrum, do in fact understand the world and the complexities of others. Who are we to rob the participants of their control by making invisible art?


Unpacking "Community"

smalina's picture

"A second issue has been the problem of community: a group of people who have problems with communication and social relatedness may find it difficult to forge a social group, and may thus be difficult to constitute as a self-aware community within a social model of disability" (Straus 462).

"We only know that ToM is a 'fundamental aspect of human relationships' because autistic people are said not to have a 'fully functioning theory of mind'" (Barnbaum qtd. in Yergeau).

Voicelessness. Ability versus Definition.

Chewy Charis's picture

Reading the Yergeau piece, I was struck the repudiation of the autists' own opinion. True, it's a common belief that patients lie, and an individual have selective memories and cannot give account to the whole truth of a particular situation. But certainly, they can access their own emotions? I mean, who are we to determine whether or not a person's feeling or reflection on his/her own experience is valid? The repudiation was again present in the video where the girl enacts aggressive behaviors toward autistics: "Autism, you mean Asperger?" ; "No, I don't see that you have autism at all" ; "Don't use Autism as an excuse. " The last one triggered a personal memory during a service trip, where I was one of the only two people of color and the only immigrant in the group.

Week Six: Neurodiversity

Kristin's picture


February 23

Joseph N. Straus, "Autism as Culture," in Disability Studies Reader

Melanie Yergeau, “Clinically Significant Disturbance: On Theorists Who Theorize Theory of Mind,” in Disability Studies Quarterly

Melanie Yergeau, "I Stim, Therefore I Am"

Nick Walker's blog, Neurocosmopolitanism: