Autistic narratives unfold under the dueling pressures of diagnostic and literary expectation. Proceeding from biomedical discourse, and also from neuroactivist circles, the diagnostic expectation holds autism to be a lifelong proposition: either a permanent disorder that may be ameliorated but never dissipated or a distinctive mode of being that should never be dissipated but must be accommodated. The literary expectation—set by the mass audience, the publishing industry, and a certain hortatory tradition of disability writing—is that the autistic protagonist will conquer the adversity posed by the condition to the degree that it will feel as if something along the lines of a "miracle recovery" has been achieved. A significant subgenre of autism tale does strive to obey both of these summons, and its member texts typically display a species of "aesthetic nervousness" unforeseen by Ato Quayson when he coined the phrase to capture the disconcerted reaction to disability in and of literary texts. The article calls this novel form of discomfort, recovery anxiety, to be explored in two autistic narratives: the parental memoir, Exiting Nirvana, and the auti-biography, Ido in Autismland.


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pp. 477-494
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