Autism and Gender
From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book began in 2009 at the Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute at Pennsylvania State University, where I joined seminar leaders Lisa Keränen, James Wynn, and an august group of scholars in the “Science and Its Publics” workshop. It was Lisa who suggested...
Introduction: Autism's Gendered Characters
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Autism has become a controversial subject in the past few decades. What was once considered a rare condition is now estimated to affect one in eighty-eight American children,1 with similar rates appearing in other industrialized nations. Scientists, psychologists, and...
Chapter 1. Interpreting Gender: Refrigerator Mothers
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June Francis was a refrigerator mother. When her son was diagnosed with autism in the 1950s, she was told that she “had not connected or bonded with the child because of inability to properly relate to the child.” The doctors she consulted prescribed psychological therapy...
Chapter 2. Performing Gender: Mother Warriors
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In 2008, Hollywood celebrity Jenny McCarthy led a rally in Washington, D.C., to pressure Congress to require the removal of trace amounts of aluminum, mercury, and other elements that McCarthy claimed could trigger autism. Amid a sea of parents—mostly mothers...
Chapter 3. Presenting Gender: Computer Geeks
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In 2010 the film The Social Network premiered to wide critical acclaim. Reviewers praised the central irony of the film—that the founder of Facebook, the most popular social network site, was himself “almost completely bereft of people skills.”1 Soon, suggestions emerged that...
Chapter 4. Rehearsing Gender: Autism Dads
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In 1957 Leon Eisenberg published a study titled “The Fathers of Autistic Children.” In the quest to single out maternal factors in autism causation, Eisenberg argued, “Father has been the forgotten man.”1 He investigated the fathers of 100 children with autism, finding a similar pattern...
Chapter 5. Inventing Gender: Neurodiverse Characters
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As a child, Jane Meyerding found girls confusing. She simply did not understand “girltalk”—the giggling, gossiping, and secret-sharing that marks young girls’ socializing.1 “I was sailing blind,” Meyerding writes, “through a world full of gender signals invisible to my genderless...
Conclusions: Gender, Character, and Rhetoric
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It may seem curious that I have, until now, said relatively little about Temple Grandin, perhaps the most well-known autistic person in the world. It was a portrait of Grandin in Oliver Sacks’s An Anthropologist on Mars that brought autism and Asperger’s syndrome to popular attention...
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About the Author. Publisher Notes
Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2014