The Connection Between Autism And Anthropology English Language Essay

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Autism is defined as a pervasive developmental disorder that is characterized by abnormal emotional, social and linguistic development in a child. (Mosby, 2009, pg. 959). Symptoms of Autism may include relating to people, objects and situations in ways that are viewed by society as abnormal or not appropriate. It can also be defined as a neurologically based developmental disorder characterized by a spectrum of severity (Ochs et. al., 2004, pg 148). The range of severity can be from profoundly retarded to highly gifted. There has been no one defined cause of autism but many theories as to what the cause may be. Many groups and foundations tend to focus on research for a medical cure for autism. With growing numbers of individuals diagnosed with Autism there is also a growing culture and community that also needs to be focused on. In this paper I want to discuss autism as a human, social, cultural issue not as a just a childhood disease.

The current view is that children with autism frequently have difficulty interacting and sharing with others. An example of this may be when a child protoimperative points, that is to point to an object for instrumental purposes (Ochs et. al., 2004, pg 150). They are less likely to share interest in objects with others through declarative pointing or pointing for the sake of their shared interest alone. Often children with autism will perseverate on objects, movies or other things that are of interest to them. They also tend not make eye contact when listening to or responding to others. Individuals with autism also desire highly structured environments and schedules. Simple changes in schedules can make it very difficult for them to function. They tend to express negative feelings such as fear and anger more often the feelings of joy and contentment. They are less attentive to others expressions and emotions. This does not mean that they are unable to form friendships. One ethnographic observation revealed that the high functioning individuals with autism had friends with who the meet regularly with (Ochs et. al., 2004, pg 151).

To what extent is autism a phenomenon of sociality or other theoretical pursuits in anthropology (Lawlor, 2010, pg. 168) ? Anthropologists are starting to reject the narrow confines of what constitutes human social functioning, and by showing the complex ways in which autistic children and adults participate and contribute to their societies (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 172). Anthropologists have also started to contextualize the public debates about the prevelance of autism and it's etiology in historical and cultural processes (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 172). The common stereotype of an autistic individual is male, nonverbal, retarded, unaffectionate, self abusive and does not engage in any social interactions. This stereotype is starting to give way to a better understanding that autism is a range of different conditions, strengths and weaknesses societies (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 173). Many individuals with autism participate in sports, clubs, are married and have children. Dawn Prince-Hughes is an anthropologist and mother diagnosed with autism. She finds beauty in her social differences and in her struggles. She is able to describe herself in cognitive and social terms. She writes: "We are all strange and broken and beautiful in our own ways. We are each so afraid of disconnection and yet it can't be easily escaped; some say it is an inevitable state of being and, perhaps, the price of consciousness. That fact makes our connections to other living things all the more important to cultivate. There is beauty in our difference and also beauty in our sameness: sameness with other animals, sameness with one another. We feel the loss of so many things: falling forests, disappearing animals, the loss of each other as we move far and fast in our culture. I think back to our original ancestors. If they were, as I believe, like me in their way of being, their needs were simple after the eating and drinking: to be loved, to be appreciated for their special abilities, to want to leave something meaningful behind them. When I, and then my son, take in our last breaths, reversing our first loud inhale with a quiet exhale, when our naked bodies shake, slick with sweat in place of that first wetness when we came into the world, when we have been delivered through that tight, black hole that marks the end and signals the beginning, I hope we will be welcomed back to be a part of memory itself. The old ghosts will celebrate." (Prince, 2010, Pg. 67,68)

Sadly, many psychologists and others view autism as absences or deficits (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 173). Some people such as Vinden and Astington have written: "People with autism are in some senses individuals without a culture.since culture is by its nature very dialogic" (Vinden et.al., 2000 pg. 516). I have had the honor and please of meeting Temple Grandin, one of the most well know individuals with autism, has demonstrated her social versatility, not just with humans but also with animals. There has been research done by Olga Soloman on how children diagnosed with autism interacted with dogs. The study was able to see how dogs and humans feed on one another. This enhanced the child's ability to communicate. Heather Kuzmich competed on a popular television show "America's Next Top Model". These individuals are not examples of stereotypical individuals with autism but individuals who are complex and have unique personalities.

The individuals I have mentioned as well as many others challenge how think about how we view autistic people. Many view people with autism from the medical stereotypical perspective. But more and more we are finding out that autistic people are challenging the popular expectations about sociality and communication in autism (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 174). ETHOS: The Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology recently dedicated their March 2010 issue to autism. Many authors in the issues resisted accepting the narrow confines of what constitutes human social functioning (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 175). This has increase awareness for future research to help autistic children grow into adults who are important parts of society and their communities. Richard Roy Grinker is an anthropologist whose daughter was diagnosed with autism in 1994. He is the author of Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism. In his book, which I was completely absorbed in, he discusses not only his personl issues dealing with a child with autism but the controversial idea that there is no evidence for an autism epidemic. Instead, the high rates of prevalence and diagnosis today are instead evidence that scientists are finally counting cases correctly (Ginker, 2008). He discusses how this is not only a good thing for the US but for the world, as there are many cultures that have only just begun to learn about autism. Grinker gives the examples of the growth of child psychiatry, the decline of psychoanalysis, the internet, the increasing rise of international advocacy organizations for those with autism, increasing greater public sensitivity to children's educational issues, and the changes in public policies that have together changed the way autism is being diagnosed and defined. Public schools in the United States have only started using the category of autism during the 1991-1992 school year, and they are now reporting it more often. This is helping to develop ways to help children with autism, and also directing parents to appropriate resources. Epidemiologists are also counting it better (Ginker, 2008). As a result, the statistics on autism that we have today - 1 in 166 -- are the most accurate we've ever had (Ginker, 2008).

Also in his book Mr. Grinker discusses his travels other countries, where the situation for individuals with autism remains far different from the United States. Mr. Grinker has …

Students Paper:

… Grinker has conducted fieldwork in India, South Africa, and South Korea and documented how …

http://www.unstrange.com/media_chronicile2.html

… Mr. Grinker conducted fieldwork in India, South Africa, and South Korea to document …

… …

Students Paper:

… Korea and documented how those cultures treat people with autism. He discusses …

http://www.unstrange.com/media_chronicile2.html

… Korea to document how those cultures treat people with autism. In India …

… . He discusses …

Students Paper:

… He discusses that in India relatively few people are diagnosed with the disorder. Most of the people who would fit the classification in the United States are considered in India to be mentally retarded or mad. When Mr. Grinker visited a prominent pediatrician in Delhi, the doctor said, "I wouldn't know if an abnormal child in my office had autism or not. I would just know he was abnormal." (Ginker, 2008 …

http://www.unstrange.com/media_chronicile2.html

… cultures treat people with autism. In India relatively few people are diagnosed with the disorder, he says. Most of the people who would fit that classification in the United States are considered in India to be mentally retarded or mad. When Mr. Grinker visited a prominent pediatrician in Delhi, the doctor said, "I wouldn't know if an abnormal child in my office had autism or not. I would just know he was abnormal."

In South Korea …

… ." (Ginker, 2008). In the country of South Korea, he found, doctors will often give an autistic child a …

Students Paper:

… child a diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder, which is thought to occur when mothers fail to bond with their children. Some families …

http://www.unstrange.com/media_chronicile2.html

… children the diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder, which is thought to occur when mothers fail to bond with their children. Although that …

… . Some families prefer it over autism as it does not imply the child has a permanent condition. Also, a disorder with possible …

Students Paper:

… with possible genetic links, such as autism, stigmatizes the entire family. This makes …

http://www.unstrange.com/media_chronicile2.html

… disorder with genetic links, such as autism, stigmatizes the entire family, making it …

… . This …

Students Paper:

… family. This makes it harder for the affected person's siblings to marry. The value of a family's apartment can drop if a child receives an autism diagnosis, according to …

http://www.unstrange.com/media_chronicile2.html

… the entire family, making it harder for the affected person's siblings to marry. The value of a family's apartment can drop if a child receives an autism diagnosis, says Mr. …

… , according to Mr. Grinker. In 2005 a movie called Marathon was shown in South Korea. This film gave many people in the country their first glimpse of autism. The fil is …

Students Paper:

… fil is based on a true story, the movie portrays the struggle of a young autistic man, who earns respect and independence through long-distance running. Mr. Ginker …

http://www.unstrange.com/media_chronicile2.html

… the disorder. Based on a true story, the movie portrays the struggle of a young autistic man, who earns respect and independence through long-distance running.

Just a …

… . Mr. Ginker has been instrumental in increasing awareness and advocacy for individuals with autim all over the world.

…

Students Paper:

… the world.

When it came time for Mr. Grinker to title his book, he chose the word unstrange because it captures the essence of what anthropologists do. They make the foreign less strange. In the …

http://www.unstrange.com/media_chronicile2.html

… complex rules.

When it came time for Mr. Grinker to title his book, he chose the word unstrange because it captures the essence of what anthropologists do. They make the foreign less strange. It's also a …

… . In the world today, the work of anthropologists and others are making the stigma of autism less strange. They are helping to show others that people with autism not matter what county or ethnic background they come from are not socially disconnected from society but they are unique individuals who are able to communicate and form relationships. Hopefully, with the increase of information and research about autism, social communites via the internet and other places, and personal interaction with individuals with autism, society will come to learn how wonderful these individuals really are.

References:

Bagatell, Nancy. 2010. …

Students Paper:

… Nancy. 2010. From Cure to Community: Transforming Notions of Autism. ETHNOS: Journal …

http://www.somatosphere.net/2010_04_01_archive.html

… 123320179/abstract

From Cure to Community: Transforming Notions of Autism

For many …

… . ETHNOS: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology . 38 (March): 33-55.

Eddings Prince, Dawn. 2010. …

Students Paper:

… Dawn. 2010. An Exceptional path: An Ethnographic Narrative Reflecting on Autistic parenthood from Evolutionary, Cultural and Spiritual Perspectives. Grinker, Richard …

http://www.somatosphere.net/2010_04_01_archive.html

… abstract%E2%80%A8

An Exceptional Path: An Ethnographic Narrative Reflecting on Autistic Parenthood from Evolutionary, Cultural, and Spiritual Perspectives

As the …

… . Grinker, Richard R. 2010. Commentary: On Being Autistic, and Social. ETHOS: Journal of the Society of Psychological Anthropology. 38 (March): 172-178. 38 (March): 56-68.

Gainer Sirota, Karen . 2010. Narratives of transformation: Family discourse, autism and trajectories of hope. Discourse & Society. 21 (September): 544-564.

Grinker, Richard R. 2008. Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism. New York: Basic Books.

Grinker, Richard R. 2010. Commentary: On Being Autistic, and Social. ETHOS: Journal of the Society of Psychological Anthropology. 38 (March): 172-178.

Lawlor, Mary C. 2010. Commentary: Autism and Anthropology? ETHNOS: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology . 38 (March): 167-171.

Mosby's Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing & Health Professions 8th Ed. 2009. St, Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.

Ochs, Elinor, et al. 2004. Autism and the Social World: an Anthropological Perspective. Discourse Studies. 6 (November): 147-183.

Ochs, Elinor, and Olga Soloman. 2010. Autistic Sociality. ETHOS: Journal of the Society of Psychological Anthropology. 38 (March): 69-92

Sterponi, Laura, and Alessandra Fasulo. 2010. " …

Students Paper:

… Fasulo. 2010. "How to Go On": Intersubjectivity and Progressivity in the Communication of a Child with Autism. ETHNOS: Journal …

http://www.somatosphere.net/2010_04_01_archive.html

… 123320184/abstract

"How to Go On": Intersubjectivity and Progressivity in the Communication of a Child with Autism

Through the …

… . ETHNOS: …

Students Paper:

… Autism. ETHNOS: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology. 38 (March): 116 …

http://socialwork.rutgers.edu/Faculty/KarenSirota.aspx

… autism. Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, 38(1), 97 …

… (March): 116-142.

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Master document text

Autism and Anthropology?

By Jill M. Holland

Autism is defined as a pervasive developmental disorder that is characterized by abnormal emotional, social and linguistic development in a child. (Mosby, 2009, pg. 959). Symptoms of Autism may include relating to people, objects and situations in ways that are viewed by society as abnormal or not appropriate. It can also be defined as a neurologically based developmental disorder characterized by a spectrum of severity (Ochs et. al., 2004, pg 148). The range of severity can be from profoundly retarded to highly gifted. There has been no one defined cause of autism but many theories as to what the cause may be. Many groups and foundations tend to focus on research for a medical cure for autism. With growing numbers of individuals diagnosed with Autism there is also a growing culture and community that also needs to be focused on. In this paper I want to discuss autism as a human, social, cultural issue not as a just a childhood disease.

The current view is that children with autism frequently have difficulty interacting and sharing with others. An example of this may be when a child protoimperative points, that is to point to an object for instrumental purposes (Ochs et. al., 2004, pg 150). They are less likely to share interest in objects with others through declarative pointing or pointing for the sake of their shared interest alone. Often children with autism will perseverate on objects, movies or other things that are of interest to them. They also tend not make eye contact when listening to or responding to others. Individuals with autism also desire highly structured environments and schedules. Simple changes in schedules can make it very difficult for them to function. They tend to express negative feelings such as fear and anger more often the feelings of joy and contentment. They are less attentive to others expressions and emotions. This does not mean that they are unable to form friendships. One ethnographic observation revealed that the high functioning individuals with autism had friends with who the meet regularly with (Ochs et. al., 2004, pg 151).

To what extent is autism a phenomenon of sociality or other theoretical pursuits in anthropology (Lawlor, 2010, pg. 168) ? Anthropologists are starting to reject the narrow confines of what constitutes human social functioning, and by showing the complex ways in which autistic children and adults participate and contribute to their societies (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 172). Anthropologists have also started to contextualize the public debates about the prevelance of autism and it's etiology in historical and cultural processes (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 172). The common stereotype of an autistic individual is male, nonverbal, retarded, unaffectionate, self abusive and does not engage in any social interactions. This stereotype is starting to give way to a better understanding that autism is a range of different conditions, strengths and weaknesses societies (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 173). Many individuals with autism participate in sports, clubs, are married and have children. Dawn Prince-Hughes is an anthropologist and mother diagnosed with autism. She finds beauty in her social differences and in her struggles. She is able to describe herself in cognitive and social terms. She writes: "We are all strange and broken and beautiful in our own ways. We are each so afraid of disconnection and yet it can't be easily escaped; some say it is an inevitable state of being and, perhaps, the price of consciousness. That fact makes our connections to other living things all the more important to cultivate. There is beauty in our difference and also beauty in our sameness: sameness with other animals, sameness with one another. We feel the loss of so many things: falling forests, disappearing animals, the loss of each other as we move far and fast in our culture. I think back to our original ancestors. If they were, as I believe, like me in their way of being, their needs were simple after the eating and drinking: to be loved, to be appreciated for their special abilities, to want to leave something meaningful behind them. When I, and then my son, take in our last breaths, reversing our first loud inhale with a quiet exhale, when our naked bodies shake, slick with sweat in place of that first wetness when we came into the world, when we have been delivered through that tight, black hole that marks the end and signals the beginning, I hope we will be welcomed back to be a part of memory itself. The old ghosts will celebrate." (Prince, 2010, Pg. 67,68)

Sadly, many psychologists and others view autism as absences or deficits (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 173). Some people such as Vinden and Astington have written: "People with autism are in some senses individuals without a culture.since culture is by its nature very dialogic" (Vinden et.al., 2000 pg. 516). I have had the honor and please of meeting Temple Grandin, one of the most well know individuals with autism, has demonstrated her social versatility, not just with humans but also with animals. There has been research done by Olga Soloman on how children diagnosed with autism interacted with dogs. The study was able to see how dogs and humans feed on one another. This enhanced the child's ability to communicate. Heather Kuzmich competed on a popular television show "America's Next Top Model". These individuals are not examples of stereotypical individuals with autism but individuals who are complex and have unique personalities.

The individuals I have mentioned as well as many others challenge how think about how we view autistic people. Many view people with autism from the medical stereotypical perspective. But more and more we are finding out that autistic people are challenging the popular expectations about sociality and communication in autism (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 174). ETHOS: The Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology recently dedicated their March 2010 issue to autism. Many authors in the issues resisted accepting the narrow confines of what constitutes human social functioning (Grinker, 2010 Pg. 175). This has increase awareness for future research to help autistic children grow into adults who are important parts of society and their communities. Richard Roy Grinker is an anthropologist whose daughter was diagnosed with autism in 1994. He is the author of Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism. In his book, which I was completely absorbed in, he discusses not only his personl issues dealing with a child with autism but the controversial idea that there is no evidence for an autism epidemic. Instead, the high rates of prevalence and diagnosis today are instead evidence that scientists are finally counting cases correctly (Ginker, 2008). He discusses how this is not only a good thing for the US but for the world, as there are many cultures that have only just begun to learn about autism. Grinker gives the examples of the growth of child psychiatry, the decline of psychoanalysis, the internet, the increasing rise of international advocacy organizations for those with autism, increasing greater public sensitivity to children's educational issues, and the changes in public policies that have together changed the way autism is being diagnosed and defined. Public schools in the United States have only started using the category of autism during the 1991-1992 school year, and they are now reporting it more often. This is helping to develop ways to help children with autism, and also directing parents to appropriate resources. Epidemiologists are also counting it better (Ginker, 2008). As a result, the statistics on autism that we have today - 1 in 166 -- are the most accurate we've ever had (Ginker, 2008).

Also in his book Mr. Grinker discusses his travels other countries, where the situation for individuals with autism remains far different from the United States. Mr. Grinker has conducted fieldwork in India, South Africa, and South Korea and documented how those cultures treat people with autism. He discusses that in India relatively few people are diagnosed with the disorder. Most of the people who would fit the classification in the United States are considered in India to be mentally retarded or mad. When Mr. Grinker visited a prominent pediatrician in Delhi, the doctor said, "I wouldn't know if an abnormal child in my office had autism or not. I would just know he was abnormal." (Ginker, 2008). In the country of South Korea, he found, doctors will often give an autistic child a diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder, which is thought to occur when mothers fail to bond with their children. Some families prefer it over autism as it does not imply the child has a permanent condition. Also, a disorder with possible genetic links, such as autism, stigmatizes the entire family. This makes it harder for the affected person's siblings to marry. The value of a family's apartment can drop if a child receives an autism diagnosis, according to Mr. Grinker. In 2005 a movie called Marathon was shown in South Korea. This film gave many people in the country their first glimpse of autism. The fil is based on a true story, the movie portrays the struggle of a young autistic man, who earns respect and independence through long-distance running. Mr. Ginker has been instrumental in increasing awareness and advocacy for individuals with autim all over the world.

When it came time for Mr. Grinker to title his book, he chose the word unstrange because it captures the essence of what anthropologists do. They make the foreign less strange. In the world today, the work of anthropologists and others are making the stigma of autism less strange. They are helping to show others that people with autism not matter what county or ethnic background they come from are not socially disconnected from society but they are unique individuals who are able to communicate and form relationships. Hopefully, with the increase of information and research about autism, social communites via the internet and other places, and personal interaction with individuals with autism, society will come to learn how wonderful these individuals really are.

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