Autism, Culture, and Representation

This semester, I hope to learn more about autism as both a medical and social disability. I am very interested in studying how autism is depicted in literature and how autistic people use literature as a form of expression. I hope that I will leave this class with a thorough knowledge of what autism is: how it is defined, how it is diagnosed, and how it is treated. But more importantly, I want to be able to understand autism from the perspective of people who have it; I want to learn about their views on autism and how they view their disability as well as how they feel about their role in society. I am also curious about autism not just in the U.S. but in the world; I would like to learn a little bit more about how the diagnosis and culture differs in other countries. Autism strikes me as an incredibly unique and interesting disability because of how differently it is represented in each individual, and I want to learn more about how these individuals use literature.

This course has already opened my eyes to the complex nature of autism as both a disability and a culture. I had not realized how complicated and ambiguous the diagnosis of autism is, although the definition seems to be becoming more defined. I was unaware of how many controversies surround autism: what to call people with autism, whether to treat them or adapt to them, if we should search for cures or search for methods of coping. Each of these matters is surrounded by a variety of viewpoints, and exploring these controversies is an important part understanding autism culture.

Autism is a complex condition out of which an entire culture has risen. I am really excited to examine and explore this culture with this class as a literary lens.

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