Author Archives: Haley

Wagner, With the Light

I am seeing people touching on this already, but I wanted to talk about how autism is viewed, not only in Japan, but world wide. It was interesting to read this piece and see the immense amount of support happening and to see something that wasn’t light, but positive, mostly. I think that is an important part of autism no matter where – positivity seems to be the key, both in learning about it, coping with it, and representing it. Realistically, of course, but positive as well. That being said, i wanted to do some research on how autism is actually viewed in Japan and if accommodations are made.

In my research, i found this interesting PDF by both the Senior Chief Researcher at the Department of Educational support in Japan as well as the Senior Chief Researcher for the Information Center of Education for the persons with Developmental Disabilities. It states that only recently has autism been added to the laws and reforms of special needs education, but now that it has, students with autism have access to schools and education catered to children with special needs. It doesn’t go any further than that, but it does project for the future, saying that, “The goal of autistic education is to have children with autism participate socially in a cohesive society.

Beyond this, it lists out ways to make sure that people with ASD are accommodated by means of adjusting living environments, professional development for teachers, understanding characteristics and education, as well as cooperation with relevant organizations like (medical agencies). Take a look, for in depth explanations:  http://www.nise.go.jp/kenshuka/josa/kankobutsu/pub_d/d-292/d-292_14.pdf

However, a basic google search also reveals that studies in Japan about vaccines causing autism are popular, as well as ways to “fix” children. I am hoping that the plan in the first source I read is something being implemented in a timely fashion to reduce those stereotypes and negative views.

I also found that Japan has the highest rate of children with autism, being 161 of every 10,000 children. Granted, their population is large, but I found it interesting that even though it is so common, the social awareness of it is still rather low.

I wanted to go a step further and look at ASD and its global perceptions. It was interesting to see how different countries view and deal with children with ASD. For example, in India, it is a popular belief that physical fitness is a mandatory asset to individuals with ASD and while social interaction is something that is worked on at care facilities, so is physical health. ON the other hand, Iceland and its huge healthcare system makes sure children are checked out ages 6-12 and many diagnosis are made, with children being referred to specialists to help educate parents and decide the best coping mechanisms. However, with the system caring for and diagnosing so many people each year, the system still isn’t big enough to care for and treat the growing number of autistic children  (http://thescipub.com/PDF/jssp.2012.196.201.pdf).

In conclusion, ASD is something that has only recently been delved into worldwide. The growing advocation for it seems to be reaching even the smaller countries and accommodations are being made. However, it is clear that the world still has a lot left to be educated on.

Wagner, Martian Time Slip Analysis

This book made me think again about the glorification of characters with autism. It seems that everything we see and read, mostly, is this preconceived notion that people with ASD must be useful to be interesting. As if they have to be treated like capital, or have some useful ability, in order to be a redeeming character. I find it hard to believe that being cast as the hero time and time again is something that  is good for the community of people with ASD, and how unrealistically society expects them to behave. So, naturally, I looked into it.

One person wrote:

“In kid lit, autistic characters often exist to affect other characters, for example to show what having an autistic sibling is like, to let characters “earn goodness pointsby being kind to us, or to educate the (assumed non-autistic) reader. We are also sometimes used to provide entertainment via amusing social misunderstandings.  ”

 

It seems to me that Dick used mental illness and Autism  to try and highlight this idea about mental disability being affected by a fast moving, unforgiving society. I am not sure where I rest my case with this, but I can see where this piece is also a product of its time and also more sympathetic to those with mental illness. I read an interesting piece that talked about whether pr not Dick had done his research before the book was written and it seems that the way he writes would indicate at least some basic research in psychological diagnosing and methods. But I also think we can look at Manfred as someone who is meant to carry plot and teach lessons, which can be both good and bad, as we have seen before.

Someone also said:

“There’s a second way we’re shown as making up for autism: having a mystical disability or special talent to entertain the reader or to serve as a plot device.  This sends the message that we can’t just be people, like non-autistic characters can; we have to compensate for disability by providing value.

But in real life, we have no psychic powers.”

I look and Manfred and I think capital. He becomes used. He has this special power and if it wasn’t for that special power, he would not have been necessary to the plot at all. However, his ability also speaks to Dick’s idea that the “time-slip” is that feeling of disconnect from reality, or something. I haven’t quite latched onto that idea either, but I am thinking it through.

Overall though, I guess it boils down into this question of was this piece good for the time period it was presented in? Probably. I think Dick was onto something. Is it perfect? Far from it, as are most things.

Interestingly enough, I couldn’t find a single web page devoted to people with autism talking about the novel at all, and I am not sure what that might mean, or not mean, for this novel and what it represents.

 

Sources:

chrome-extension://bpmcpldpdmajfigpchkicefoigmkfalc/views/app.html

Autistic Representation and Real-Life Consequences: An In-Depth Look

Wagner, Analysis 4, Blog 3

The first thing I noticed when I started reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was the depiction of the mental institution. So often I read about or see on television places that were so negative, so evil, and so destructive to people, but this novel seems to detract from that. This place they are in doesn’t seem entirely detrimental. The Kesey draws in the focus to the people that are there rather than describing in laborious detail what the place really is. The actual place takes a back seat and the piece is more character driven, which I appreciate. I think society has this picture painted of mental hospitals that is dark and scary, which is true for many instances, but then that begs the question of which places don’t fit the stereotype and what places really did work as intended.

I think that in this way the story becomes much more about Chief and the people in this facility. There is this extreme focus on character’s personality and interactions rather than surroundings. There is this sense of community and each character becomes their own person, rather than a set of symptoms. I think in this was Kesey has tapped into an area that other pieces of literature had yet to tap into and that is the individuality of individuals who are neurodivergent. With that in mind, I wanted to look into what else was happening when this piece came out and the influence it had.

The first piece of information I came across when google searching for the novel’s influence in the decade it came out was its effect on ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). The novel was published in 1962 and the following decade was followed by a “tarnishing” of ECT and its downfall. I am always amazed by media and its ability to sway the general public’s opinion. It reminded me of when Jaws came out and people avoided water for a long, long time. Same concept here — once people are given a negative view of something that it scary within itself, you get a rejection of the idea altogether. Apparently, the novel created a change in the way the entire psychiatry field was viewed. It even brought on an increase in research and development of medication for those with mental illness/disability in place of the shock therapy that was now deemed cruel and unacceptable.

The other idea that I was getting at was about character and I was not disappointed to discover that once again, it all comes back to WWII (as we have discussed many times in class). Kesey used his novel as a way to show the hypocrisy of the “American Dream” America’s view of individuality at the time. America was all about individuality if it was “appropriate”. People with any sort of neurodivergence who went farther than “mildly eccentric” were shoved aside, shocked, and stuck in mental institutions. Kesey attempted to highlight this and bring to life the views, voices, and lives of those people whose individuality was shamed rather than welcomed.    

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8296954/How-One-Flew-Over-the-Cuckoos-Nest-changed-psychiatry.html

http://salempress.com/store/pdfs/ci_cuckoo_samplepgs.pdf

Wagner, Analysis 2,

Like a few others, I have read Bartleby more than once in my school career. Not once had anyone ever taught it looking at Bartleby as a possible example of a character with autism. Reading it through this lens, a third/fourth time, the language used around Bartleby become indicators of what other people think of him.

I notice in literature that it is common to make characters eccentric or “weird” and very frequently those descriptions are not eccentricities, but rather the neurodiversity of one character against another. In the case of Bartleby, the characters around him make it know. Ginger Nut calls him “luny”. The Lawyer is perplexed by his behavior, so much so that he doesn’t treat him like he does other people if they were to give a similar response.

The story made me think of Flowers for Algernon. It’s been a while since I read it, but the character reactions and the representation of neurotypicality and neurodiversity is similar. Charlie (Flowers for Algernon), unlike Bartleby, is bullied and teased by the people surrounding him. While Bartleby isn’t necessarily bullied, he is still regarded as different and an outcast. Both say a lot about how neurotypical people view individuals with some form of autism. Both are treated by being distanced. Both are looked at as “eccentric” unequivocally different individuals. Bartleby is treated like a specimen, examined from afar, while Charlie is entertainment.

This made me think of the other reading — CH. 3 about Melville. The ways in which Melville’s own family talked about him, using words with negative connotations like “obsessive” and “lunatic”. His behaviors become open to discussion.

I too was perplexed by misogyny being a “common” symptom of Asbergers syndrome. Browsing the web, I was amazed by the amount of blogs and case studies that covered this topic. One blog suggested that (http://skepchick.org/2012/08/aspie/) it is easier to blame certain social behaviors on autism rather than looking at the root. “Autism does not preclude empathy.” There is a misconception that apathy, misogony, and the like, are directly correlated with autism rather than simply a “misunderstanding based on social cues” or a blatant understanding that is not a result of autism either.

I think this is important to remember. Misogyny was more than likely something learned and observed put into practice. Mellville’s views on women have no fool proof link to his Asbergers. I think this stems from a misunderstanding in what autism can and can’t do, as well as people looking for an excuse to “cure” autism and dismiss people with autism as incapable of learning social issues.