It may seem that I overstate the case, that I ascribe too much agency to the rhetoric of autistic whiteness I describe here. According to Bernard Weiss, an expert in environmental medicine, the California study "confirms an association between parental education and autism risk" that had been found in earlier studies.
The greater rhetorical power of these armchair diagnoses, though, does not come from their identifying Paul heilker essay fictional characters as autistic although Napoleon Dynamite and Mr.
Even a cursory examination of such lists reveals a high proportion of scientists and technology experts, which leads us to consider the role geek chic plays in the construction of autistic whiteness. The influences of special education programs and access to health care are both connected to a third less obvious factor working to create autism as a white condition, which is the level of parental education.
We do not yet know what causes autism, and outside of any personal experiences we have had with Paul heilker essay, all there is to work with is fundamentally uncertain yet aggressively suasive public discourse Paul heilker essay the condition, where there is heated argument about what, exactly, autism is, how we should think about it, and how we should respond to it.
That is the "truth" about autism. On the other hand, this rhetoric suggests that autism is exclusive, that it is socially divisive, affecting only a particular kind of people as determined by the single and especially fraught demographic distinction of race.
I begin, then, with the perhaps obvious matter of epistemology, of how rhetoric and social construction can work to create the "truth" in a given circumstance. Even those of us on the spectrum or who have close relationships with an autistic family member or members will still always be working with a necessarily limited data set.
Walter Jost and Wendy Olmstead. In Adamfor example, the autistic character was portrayed by Hugh Dancy; in P. Hence, now matter how great the educational effort — that is, even if World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month somehow become a perpetual World Autism Awareness Year — what we have to work with, then, are less our lived experiences than they are the increasingly ubiquitous narratives and arguments about autism and autistics being pushed at us in books, magazines, film, television, newspapers, advocacy campaigns, public service announcements, and a wide variety of internet sites.
This being the case, the current situation in American education, at least, which continues to have racially disproportionate results favoring greater degrees of achievement by white students, is thus heavily weighted toward perpetuating autism as a white phenomenon.
In this text, I use the term autistic to refer to and to describe persons on the autism spectrum. While additional, more in-depth studies of autism as a white phenomenon should surely be conducted to determine the full range and depth of this phenomenon, I would prefer to turn at this point from this preliminary discussion of some of its causes to a initial discussion of its potential implications.
The rhetorics of autism advocacy groups also work to construct autism as a white phenomenon. Bean leap to mind, for instancebut from their invocation of real, historical figures as autistic. While the best information would likely come from direct, sustained, personal contact with a range of autistics across a variety of contexts over a long period of time, few people have that opportunity.
While most people might point to Sheldon Cooper, the physicist portrayed by Jim Parsons on the comedy "The Big Bang Theory," as the most obviously autistic character on television, Sheldon actually exemplifies two other forces working to construct autism as a relentlessly white condition: And once they entered treatment, she writes, African-American children "required three times the number of visits over a period three times as long as Caucasian children before receiving an autistic disorder diagnosis" For a neurotypical working out her relationship with someone on the spectrum, her ability or inability to identify with this autistic whiteness could be a powerful force in persuading her to support or resist a particular agenda about autism — for instance, whether she should understand and respond to autism as a disease, a disability, or a diversity issue.
I will go further: What we learn from the movies, for instance, is that all autistics are white. Moreover, if identifying with autistic whiteness serves to collapse or efface critical differences between people on the spectrum and neurotypicals, as I believe it may, then it would seem to be deeply involved in difficult questions about empathy and its place in autistic-neurotypical relations see Heilker and Yergeau, It then considers the epistemological and rhetorical implications of autistic whiteness, including an examination of its functions in Burkean identification and its possible operation in educational, workplace, criminal justice, and governmental contexts.
The arguments wielded in this conflict are often verbal, of course, but they are increasingly visual in nature as well, and they come at us from professional, popular, and amateur authors through a wide variety of media — books, magazines, film, television, advocacy campaigns, public service announcements, wikis, and blogs, to name but a few.
For instance, cultural biases for and against special education programs are powerful factors in this regard. Heilker, Paul, and Melanie Yergeau.
There is thus a complex, somewhat contradictory set of effects of these discourses, one that affects both those on the autism spectrum and neurotypicals as well, implicitly but powerfully shaping what we can collectively perceive and conceive about autism and autistics.Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races.
New York: Howard Fertig, Print. Gaonkar, Dilip Parmeshwar. "Introduction: Contingency and Probability." Paul Heilker is an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, where he serves as the Director of the PhD Program in Rhetoric and Writing. ED AUTHOR TITLE INSTITUTION.
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