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Cumulative Annotated Bibliography
July 24th, 2012 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

Abell, Frances, Frances Happe, and Uta Frith. “Do triangles play tricks? Attributions of mental states to animated shapes in normal and abnormal development.” Cognitive Development 15, no. 1 (January-March 2000): 1-16. doi: 10.1016/S0885-2014(00)00014-9.

A study that attempts to measure Theory of Mind (ToM) by using computer animations of two moving triangles and asking the participants to describe them. The researchers showed the computer animations to a group of adults, a group of eight-year-old autistic children, and a group of eight-year-old typically developing children. The computer animations were constructed to show random behavior, goal-directed behavior, and deceptive behavior. Most of the adults used the expected intentional and emotional terms to describe the actions of the animations. The autistic children ascribed mental and intentional states to the triangles less often than the non-autistic children, and the mental states they did attribute were not the same of those given by the non-autistic children. Thus, the researchers conclude that autistic child have impairments in ToM and in the ability to ascribe mental states to other human beings.

As in a later study by Knickmeyer et al. (2006), one of the most troubling aspects of this study is the subjective nature of the ways in which the researchers view the cartoons. They expect that their own views of the cartoons will be shared by all the participants. When the participants don’t anthropomorphize the shapes, or talk about them in unexpected ways, the authors conclude that the participants are lacking in ToM. But how does a failure to anthropomorphize inanimate objects indicate a problem with mentalizing? An alternative explanation would be a bias in the autistic children toward seeing things as they really are. Moreover, the researchers assume that when the autistic children give unexpected descriptions of the mental states of the triangles, those descriptions are simply wrong — which leads me to wonder how one could scientifically measure whether the mental state one ascribes to a triangle is correct or not.

Frances Abell is a clinical psychologist and a former professor of Psychology at University College London. Frances Happe is a professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. Uta Frith is a professor of Psychology at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London.

Agee, Jane. “Developing qualitative research questions: a reflective process.” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 22, no. 4 (July–August 2009): 431–447. doi:10.1080/09518390902736512.

A very accessible introduction to the ways in which good qualitative research involves an evolving process of inquiry into the perspectives of individuals in specific social and cultural contexts. Agee describes how to shape and reshape questions, particularly with an eye to understanding one’s own position in the research, and she emphasizes how crucial it is to allow the results of the research to reshape the questions one asks. She also discusses the topic of involving research subjects as participants in the process of shaping a qualitative study, and stresses the importance of understanding the potential impact of one’s privilege and power when working with marginalized and vulnerable groups.

Jane Agee is an associate professor in the School of Education at the University at Albany at SUNY. She holds a PhD in English Education from the University of Georgia and has been a project director at the National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement.

Age of Autism. “Why Can’t Johnny Poop? Or Stop Pooping? Pediatric Bowels are Broken.” http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/11/why-cant-johnny-poop-or-stop-pooping-pediatric-bowels-are-broken.html. November 5, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

A reprint of an article from The Star in Ontario about the increased incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) among Ontario children, along with commentary from the managing editor of the Age of Autism page, Kim Stagliano. The commentary links IBD to autism, vaccines, and environmental toxins, and casts aspersions on the writer of the original piece for suggesting that the increase has to do with better pediatric diagnoses.

Kim Stagliano is the mother of three autistic daughters, all of whom she believes became autistic through vaccination, and is the author of All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa.

Ahmed, Sarah. “Queer Feelings.” In The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, edited by Donald E. Hall and Annamarie Jagose, 422-441. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.

In this excellent essay, the author explores the ways in which the world is set up for heteronormative people and the resulting challenges that queer people face when encountering normative expectations about sexuality and identity. Although she does not address disability explicitly, a great deal of her essay resonates from a disability studies perspective: the exhausting nature of trying to pass for “normal” and the ongoing pressure to do so; the cultural directive to find certain bodies loveable and attractive, but not others; the ways in which public spaces are designed with the expectation that only certain types of bodies will inhabit them; and the unspoken expectation, in social relationships, that one is — and should be — “normal.” One of the most compelling points that Ahmed makes is that queer people don’t actually fail at fulfilling norms and need not reject them altogether. Rather, they can set about “inhabiting norms differently” in order to bring creativity, insight, and new ways of doing and being into the culture. I think that the same could be said for disabled people: that we should be “inhabiting norms differently” without feeling that we must either fail at fulfilling the norms or dispense with them entirely.

Sarah Ahmed is a professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University and the author of The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Her areas of specialization include critical race studies and queer theory.

Akhtar, Nameera and Morton Ann Gernsbacher. “On Privileging the Role of Gaze in Infant Social Cognition.” Child Development Perspectives 2, no. 2 (2008): 59-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-8606.2008.00044.x.

A paper that addresses the ways in which using gaze to understand the intentions and feelings of others is a western cultural phenomenon, and suggests that children in other cultures — along with atypically developing children in western culture — may use auditory, tactile, and olfactory cues not measured by current research. The thesis presented in the paper has tremendous significance for the characterization of autism as an empathy disorder, because this characterization is based, in part, on the fact that autistic children generally do not engage in what the authors refer to as “mutual gaze,” “gaze following,” and “gaze alternation.” In western culture, mutual gaze is understood to mean that one is engaging socially and emotionally with others; gaze following is the primary way in which one indicates that one is paying attention to the intentions of others; and gaze alternation between people and objects is an indication of joint attention. However, because western culture privileges gaze, researchers often fail to consider other indications that autistic children are engaging with others, understanding the intentions of others, and engaging in joint attention.

Nameera Akhtar is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Morton Ann Gernsbacher holds a doctorate in Human Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently a Vilas Research Professor and the Sir Frederic C. Bartlett Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her work has centered on the cognitive processes that inform language, and she is considered an expert in the field of autism research.

Anderson, Elizabeth. “Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011). Accessed November 23, 2011.http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2011/entries/feminism-epistemology/.

A brilliant article that articulates, in clear and nuanced detail, how to critique scientific research from a feminist viewpoint. While the paper focuses on the causes and consequences of gender bias in science, its principles are applicable to a wider critique of scientific research from the perspective of marginalized people. The author includes an explication of how our perspectives and experiences influence how we know; a delineation of culturally defined “masculine” and “feminine” cognitive styles in research; a discussion of the way our culture gives epistemic privilege to the “masculine” style; an appeal for research to tap the deep knowledge that marginalized people have of both their own experience and the mechanisms of oppression; a rich discussion of the aims and theoretical underpinnings of standpoint theory, post-modernism, and empiricism; a well-articulated distinction between “erroneous bias” and “generative bias;” a spirited defense of “value-laden inquiry;” a critique of conventional ideas of “objectivity” and a proposal for a new definition; a discussion of incorporating diverse perspectives and needs into research; and a cogent explanation of epistemic authority, epistemic injustice, and epistemic ignorance.

Elizabeth Anderson is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and John Rawls Collegiate Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. She specializes in the fields of ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of the social sciences, feminist theory, and epistemology.

Asch, Adrienne. “Critical Race Theory, Feminism, and Disability: Reflections on Social Justice and Personal Identity.” Ohio State Law Journal 62, no. 1 (2001):391-425. http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/students/groups/oslj/files/2012/03/62.1.asch_.pdf.

In this article, the author applies critical race theory (CRT) and feminist theory to several questions that she poses regarding the disability rights movement: Who should be considered disabled and therefore able to avail themselves of the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? How do we view the interaction of physical impairments with the social/architectural environment? Should the disability rights movement make full integration of disabled people in society a goal, or is there room for separate communities that remain unintegrated? How do people construct a positive disability identity and what does it consist of? Asch makes use of various provisions of the ADA as a primary source, along with personal testimony by disabled people about the microaggressions that take place in American culture, and about the experiences that cannot be addressed or remedied by the ADA because they are expressions of cultural prejudices.

Adrienne Asch holds a PhD in Social Psychology from Columbia. In addition to being the Director of the Center for Ethics at Yeshiva University, she is a professor of Epidemiology and Population Health and a professor of Family and Social Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Her work focuses on issues of law and ethics regarding human reproduction and The Human Genome Project.

Autism and Empathy: Dispelling Myths and Breaking Stereotypes. http://www.autismandempathy.com. Accessed January 6, 2012.

A website created to undo stigmatizing myths about autism and empathy. It features writing by autistic individuals, by autism parents and family members, by autism professionals, and by others who understand that autistic people, all along the spectrum, can experience the world in highly empathetic and sensitive ways.

Autism Blogs Directory. “Simon Baron-Cohen Replies to Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg.” http://autismblogsdirectory.blogspot.com/2011/09/simon-baron-cohen-replies-to-rachel.html. September 10, 2011. Accessed January 7, 2012.

A post in which the author, the director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University, responds to my critique of his Empathizing-Systemizing (E-S) Theory. My reply appears at http://www.journeyswithautism.com/2011/09/19/my-reply-to-simon-baron-cohen/.

Auyeung, Bonnie, Simon Baron-Cohen, Emma Ashwin, Rebecca Knickmeyer, Kevin Taylor, and Gerald Hackett. “Fetal testosterone and autistic traits.” British Journal of Psychology 100, no. 1 (2009): 1-22. doi: 10.1348/000712608X311731.

A study that purports to show that fetal testosterone in amniotic fluid is associated with autistic traits, and that therefore autistic traits are evidence of a “masculine” cognitive and behavioral style. This study, and others along the same lines carried out by Baron-Cohen and his associates at the Autism Research Centre, has been adduced as evidence for the theory that autism is a manifestation of an “extreme male brain.”

In this study, the researchers used two methods to measure autistic traits in children between the ages of six and ten years — the Childhood Autism Spectrum Test (CAST) and the Child Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ-Child). The questionnaires were filled out by the mothers of the children. The results showed that, indeed, autistic traits (as measured by the tests) correlate with elevated levels of foetal testosterone in the amniotic fluid of both girls and boys. The authors suggest that this finding gives credence to the extreme-male-brain theory of autism.

However, there are three basic problems with the study: 1) The questionnaires were filled out by the mothers of the children, not by a clinician trained to recognize autistic traits, and yet the results are presented as objective measures of the ways in which the children manifest autism; 2) the traits measured are particular manifestations of social, visual, analytic, language, empathy, and systemizing skills that our culture has defined as “masculine”; and 3) there is an unexamined level of essentialism, in that the researchers assume that there are male and female characteristics that can be measured outside of cultural constructs.

The authors of this study are researchers at the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

Auyeung, Bonnie, Kevin Taylor, Gerald Hackett, and Simon Baron-Cohen. “Foetal testosterone and autistic traits in 18 to 24-month-old children.” Molecular Autism 1, no. 11 (2010): 1-8. doi: 10.1186/2040-2392-1-11.

A study that measures whether high levels of testosteron in amniotic fluid are correlated with autistic traits in children between the ages of 18 and 24 months. To measure autistic traits in their subjects, the researchers asked the mothers of the children to fill out the Quantitative Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (Q-CHAT). The results mirrored those of the 2009 study with six- to ten-year-old children, showing a significant correlation between levels of testosterone and autistic traits. However, this study was flawed in all the same ways as the earlier one: 1) The questionnaires were filled out by the mothers of the children, not by a clinician trained to recognize autistic traits, and yet the results are presented as objective measures of the ways in which the children manifest autism; 2) the traits measured are particular manifestations of human behavior that our culture has defined as “masculine”; and 3) there is an unexamined level of essentialism, in that the researchers assume that there are male and female characteristics that can be measured outside of cultural constructs.

The authors of this study are researchers at the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

Bagatell, Nancy. “Orchestrating Voices: Autism, Identity, and the Power of Discourse.” Disability and Society 22, no. 4 (June 2007): 413-426. doi: 10.1080/09687590701337967.

An engaging ethnographic study that discusses a) the construction of identity as a social, lifelong process, b) the necessity of constructing multiple identities for interacting inside multiple discourses, c) the author’s nine-month process of interviewing and observing a young man with autism as he engages in the iterative process of constructing his identity. Bagatell uses anthropological theories about identity construction, along with the work of Mikhail Bahktin, to create a framework in which to interpret the results of her interviews and observations. Her research successfully challenges the common misconception that identity building is unimportant to autistic people.

Nancy Bagatell is an assistant professor of Occupational Science at Quinnipiac University. She holds a PhD in occupational science from the University of Southern California. As an occupational therapist, she has worked with autistic people for a number of years. Her dissertation analyzed the ways in which adults with high-functioning autism create identity and see the possibilities for their lives.

Baker, Andrew. “The Vaccine Hoax is Over.” Food Freedom News, September 29, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012. http://foodfreedomgroup.com/2012/09/29/the-vaccine-hoax-is-over-by-andrew-baker/.

An article that alleges that information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act in the UK proves that the government has covered up information showing that vaccines don’t work, that they transmit rather than prevent illness, and that they pose a danger to children. Moreover, the author alleges that government officials have conspired to hide this information from its citizens and actively militated against safety studies. The article asserts that the same types of conspiracies have occurred in the United States.

Andrew Baker writes for the Food Freedom News, a site that posts articles about food safety, buying from local producers, and local control over food production.

Baker, Tamara A. and Caroline C. Wang. “Photovoice: Use of a Participatory Action Research Method to Explore the Chronic Pain Experience in Older Adults.” Qualitative Health Research 16, no. 10 (2006): 1405-1413. doi: 10.1177/1049732306294118.

An interesting piece about Photovoice, a participatory action research strategy that enables people with chronic pain to express the ways in which their pain affects their lives. PhotoVoice was originally created to enable subjects from all walks of life to photograph scenes from their everyday lives, write narratives about what the images mean to them, discuss the images as a group, and display them in a public venue. Using PhotoVoice, subjects are able to express the nature of their experiences in a way not possible through standard quantitative measures.

In their paper, the authors discuss using PhotoVoice to accomplish three goals: 1) identify issues that have been ignored or poorly understood regarding the experience of living with chronic pain, 2) discern the ways in which psychological and social factors affect the experience of pain for people in marginalized groups, and 3) make the results available to professionals crafting public policy, developing theories about the pain experience, and providing care. In response to the physical challenges faced by their subjects, most of whom could not attend group discussions or publicly display their work, the authors acknowledge the necessity of modifying the standard PhotoVoice method to accommodate people dealing with severe pain, fatigue, and other physical challenges.

Tamara Baker is an associate professor in the School of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida, where she specializes in understanding health treatment and pain management for adults from varied racial and ethnic groups. Caroline C. Wang is an associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, and holds a doctorate in public health from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1992, she developed the PhotoVoice approach with Dr. Mary Ann Burris.

Bara, Bruno G., Monica Bucciarelli, and Livia Colle. “Communicative abilities in autism: Evidence for attentional deficits.” Brain and Language 77, no. 2 (May 2001): 216–240. doi: 10.1006/brln.2000.2429.

A study that asks whether autistic performance on pragmatic language and Theory of Mind (ToM) tests might improve if the researchers control for attentional deficits and emotional sensitivities in the respondents. The key question posed by the researchers is the following: “Does the poor performance of autistic children on conventional tests of pragmatic language and ToM indicate an underlying deficit with regard to language and the imputation of mental states, or do the test methodologies and environments make autistic children unable to show their competence?”

To answer this question, the researchers gave 20 nonverbal autistic children and 20 typically developing children, all between the ages of 7 and 16, a battery of tests. The first series of tests used the Leither Scale to assess reasoning and visualization, along with attention and memory; the autistic children scored significantly lower than controls on all aspects of the attention and memory tasks, providing evidence for attentional deficits. The second series of tests assessed pragmatic language by presenting short stories with what the authors refer to as “simple speech acts,” “complex speech acts,” “ironies,” “deceits,” and “recoveries of false speech acts”; the children had to answer the question of why a character responded in a particular way. On these tests, the autistic children tested equal to or higher than controls. The third series of tests consisted of first- and second-order false-belief tasks, on which the autistic children scored significantly higher than controls. The authors conclude that the difference in autistic performance from other studies using the same tests (including Baron-Cohen’s 1985 and 1989 studies) is due to the fact that the children were able to use facilitated communication (FC), read written questions and supply written answers, and do so at their own pace, all of which enabled them to focus their attention on text, without being distracted by other stimuli in the environment, and to feel emotionally comfortable in the presence of their known facilitators. The authors also cite research that provides strong evidence for the fact that autistic children have difficulty remaining motivated and giving attention to standardized tests, and that such standardized tests therefore measure motivation and attention more than any other attribute.

Bruno G. Bara holds an MD degree and a PhD in Clinical Psychology, and serves as the director of the Center for Cognitive Science at the University of Turin. Monica Bucciarelli holds a PhD in Psychology, and is a professor of General Psychology at the University of Turin and a member of the Center for Cognitive Science. Livia Colle holds a PhD in Cognitive Sciences and is a researcher in the Center for Cognitive Science at the University of Turin.

Barnes, Colin. “A Brief History of Discrimination and Disabled People.” In The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, 20-32. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

An informative and insightful piece in which the author charts the trajectory of discrimination against disabled people in England, from medieval persecution to present-day policy created without incorporating the perspectives of those who live with disability. The article discusses the Poor Law of 1601 as the first instance of the state becoming involved in the welfare of disabled people (who were supported within their local communities), the accelerating segregation of disabled people into institutions during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the increased power of the medical profession to incarcerate people with mental illness after the enactment of the Lunacy Legislation of 1845, and the ways in which industrialization and cyclical economic downturns created pressure to institutionalize disabled people well into the 1950s. The piece brings the reader up to date on the ways in which the welfare state has benefitted disabled people from the 1940s to the present, noting legislation aimed at creating rehabilitation programs, vocational training, equal opportunities in employment and education, financial assistance, medical aids, and community-based services aimed at deinstitutionalization. The author does an excellent job of examining the ideological underpinnings of disability discrimination, particularly as expressed in the philosophies of Social Darwinism and the eugenics movement. He concludes by critiquing the medical profession’s definitions of the terms impairment, disability, and handicap for the ways in which they both feed ignorance about disability and fail to address the rights and needs of disabled people.

In addition to being a disabled writer and a disability rights activist, Colin Barnes is a professor of Disability Studies in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds.

Baron-Cohen, Simon, Alan M. Leslie, and Uta Frith. “Does the autistic child have a ‘theory of mind’?” Cognition 21, no.1 (1985): 37-46. http://autismtruths.org/pdf/3.%20Does%20the%20autistic%20child%20have%20a%20theory%20of%20mind_SBC.pdf.

A paper that describes the results of the first Theory of Mind (ToM) test administered to autistic children. In their study, Baron-Cohen, Leslie, and Frith engage in a number of incorrect assumptions about autistic children, including the idea that autism is primarily a social impairment and that autistic children are incapable of engaging in “normal social relationships” — as though relationships were not symmetrical and mutual endeavors in which both parties must reach across difference to understand the cognitive and communication styles of the other. Moreover, the authors assert that most autistic children are intellectually disabled, a fact that has since been disproven by administering IQ tests based on visual patterning, on which autistic people score as much as 70 points higher as on verbal tests. Finally, the researchers make the assumption that if autistic people have an inability to attribute mental states to other people, that inability explains all the core features of autism — a leap of logic that they never fully justify.

Beginning with all of these assumptions, Baron-Cohen, Leslie, and Frith set about answering the question of whether autistic people can attribute mental states, otherwise known as having ToM. To do so, using dolls and props, they administer a false-belief test to 20 autistic children between the ages of 6 and 16, along with a group of children with Down Syndrome and a group of typically developing children. While 85% of the children with Down Syndrome and 86% of the typically developing children passed the test, 80% of the autistic participants failed it. From this fact, the researchers draw the highly questionable conclusion that autistic people lack ToM. The problems with this conclusion are many. First, the test posed questions about the mental states of dolls to autistic children who, as the researchers acknowledge, do not engage in pretend play; such children would have difficulty with the idea of a doll believing anything at all. Second, the authors fail to appreciate the syntactic complexity of the questions being asked of children who have significant language impairments. Third, the researchers seem to have no understanding that auditory processing, executive function, and information-processing difficulties are common in autism, and that the children might not have been able to hold in their minds a multi-part scenario explained verbally without being able to draw it or write it down. Finally, the researchers draw the conclusion that ToM deficits are universal in autism despite the fact that 20% of the autistic participants actually passed the test. Unfortunately, this study represents the beginning of the characterization of autism as an empathy disorder, a characterization that still holds sway with numerous researchers and the general public.

Simon Baron-Cohen is a professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University and the director of the Autism Research Centre. Alan M. Leslie is a professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, and the director of the Cognitive Development Laboratory, at Rutgers University. Uta Frith is a professor of Psychology at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College, London.

Baron-Cohen, Simon. “The Autistic Child’s Theory of Mind: A Case of Specific Developmental Delay.” Child Psychology and Psychiatry 30, no. 2 (1989): 285-297. http://autismresearchcentre.com/docs/papers/1989_BC_The%20autistic%20child%27s%20theory%20of%20mind_JChildPsycholPsychiat.PDF.

A paper that reports on a study testing the Theory of Mind (ToM) abilities of the 20% of the autistic children who passed the first-order false belief test outlined in the author’s 1985 paper on the subject, along with six children not in the original study. In the 1989 experiment, Baron-Cohen tested ten children with autism, ten children with Down Syndrome, and ten typically developing children by giving them a test of second-order belief attribution. The first-order belief test had examined the children’s ability to understand the thoughts of another person about an event; the second-order belief attribution test examined their ability to understand the thoughts of another person about the thoughts of a third person about an event. The results showed that 90% of the typically developing children and 60% of the children with Down Syndrome passed the test, while 90% of the autistic children failed it. The conclusion that the researchers drew is that autistic people have severely delayed or non-existent ToM.

The experiment and its conclusions suffer from the same flaws as the 1985 study. First, in playing out the test scenario, the experimenter asks about the mental states of dolls with children who do not engage in pretend play and would not feel that a doll could have any sort of mental state at all. Second, the syntactic construction of the questions asked in the second-order belief attribution is even more complex than in the first one, and the questions are being posed to children with significant language impairments. Third, the multi-part scenario explained verbally in the present study is even more complex than in the first, and yet the researchers do not take into account that children with auditory processing difficulties, executive function challenges, and information processing difficulties would have a hard time conceptualizing the questions without a visual fallback. Once again, the researchers draw the conclusion that ToM deficits are universal in autism, despite the fact that 10% of the autistic participants passed the test.

Simon Baron-Cohen is a professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University and the director of the Autism Research Centre.

Baron-Cohen, Simon, Therese Jolliffe, Catherine Mortimore, and Mary Robertson. “Another advanced test of theory of mind: evidence from very high functioning adults with autism or Asperger Syndrome.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 38, no. 7 (October 1997): 813-822. http://www.autismresearchcentre.com/docs/papers/1997_BCetal_Anotheradvancedtest.pdf.

A study that follows up on a group of adults with autism who had previously passed second-order false-belief tests. Because the developmental limit for the previous tests was a mental age of six, the aim of the study was to give autistic adults a more advanced test to see whether they have impaired Theory of Mind (ToM). The adults in the study were given the task of determining a person’s mental state by looking at photographs of the person’s eyes. The autistic participants scored significantly lower than the non-autistic controls, leading the researchers to conclude that autistic adults have ToM impairments. However, the study does not take into account the fact that autistic people, in general, do not look at the eyes and face as much as non-autistic people, so that they are less practiced at reading eyes and faces. Moreover, the study privileges visual processing as a measure of whether one can infer mental states, but it does so inconsistently, attributing impaired ToM to autistic people who have difficulties visually processing information from the eyes, but not to visually impaired non-autistic people, who have the same difficulties. It is simply assumed that visually impaired non-autistic people infer mental states by other means and have “normal” ToM, but no such assumption is made for autistic people.

The authors of this study are past and present researchers in the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

Baron-Cohen, Simon, Sally Wheelwright, Richard Skinner, Joanne Marin, and Emma Clubley. “The Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ): evidence from Asperger Syndrome/high-functioning autism, males and females, scientists and mathematicians.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 31, no. 1 (February 2001): 5-17. http://www.autismresearchcentre.com/docs/papers/2001_BCetal_AQ.pdf.

A study introducing the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) test, a self-report questionnaire measuring autistic traits in adults. After measuring four groups of test subjects — 58 adults with Asperger’s Syndrom and high-functioning autism (HFA), 174 randomly selected controls, 840 non-autistic students at Cambridge University, and 16 winners of the UK Mathematics Olympiad —the researchers found a significant correlation between adults diagnosed with Asperger’s and HFA and high scores on the AQ.

The authors of this study are past and present researchers in the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

Baron-Cohen, Simon. “Theory of mind in normal development and autism.” Prisme 34 (2001): 174-183. http://www.autism-community.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/TOM-in-TD-and-ASD.pdf.

A paper that describes various tests for Theory of Mind (ToM) in autistic people, and concludes that ToM deficits are universal in that population. Unfortunately, the author makes no effort to determine whether a failure to pass any of the tests might be related to any cause other than ToM deficits; thus, he adduces the tests to “prove” his theory without accounting for numerous other possible explanations. Other studies, both before and after, have provided a great deal of evidence to show that failure on ToM tests can be due to any number of factors, including anxiety, language delays, and communication impairments — all issues associated with autism. Thus, the researcher breaks a key rule in scientific inquiry: It is not enough to determine whether a theory can be proven to be true; one must demonstrate that it cannot be proven false.

The paper is also notorious for its dehumanizing contention that ToM abilities are a core component of what makes us human, and that autistic people have universal impairments in this human quality.

Simon Baron-Cohen is a professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University and the director of the Autism Research Centre.

Baron-Cohen, Simon. “The extreme male brain theory of autism.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 6 no. 6 (June 2002): 248-254. doi:10.1016/S1364-6613(02)01904-6.

A paper in which the author introduces his theory that the female brain is associated with empathizing, that the male brain is associated with systemizing, and that autistic people are extreme systemizers and therefore have an “extreme male brain.” The weaknesses of this theory lie in the author’s insistence on making culturally defined traits synonymous with biology, and on his assumption that high empathizing and high systemizing exist on either end of a continuum (leaving out the possibility of them coexisting in the same individual).

Simon Baron-Cohen is a professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University and the director of the Autism Research Centre.

Baron-Cohen, Simon and Sally Wheelwright. “The Friendship Questionnaire: An Investigation of Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism, and Normal Sex Differences.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 33, no. 5 (2003): 509-517. http://www.autismresearchcentre.com/docs/papers/2003_BCandSW_FQ.pdf.

A study introducing the Friendship Questionnaire (FQ), a test instrument created for the express purpose of validating the extreme-male-brain theory of autism. The FQ is a self-report questionnaire testing whether the subject enjoys close friendships, whether he or she finds other people’s lives interesting, and whether he or she desires to engage in social interactions for the sole purpose of being with people. The researchers carried out two studies using the FQ — one with a group of non-autistic men and women, and one with a group of men and woman with a diagnosis of Asperger’s or high-functioning autism (HFA). The results of the first study showed that more women than men were interested in friendship as defined by the questionnaire; combining these results with the results of the Empathy Quotient (EQ) test, the researchers draw the conclusion that women are more empathetic than men. The results of the second study showed that respondents with Asperger’s and HFA scored lower than controls, from which the researchers draw the questionable conclusion that autistic people have extreme male brains. One major flaw in the study is that it does not account for other factors — such as bullying, discrimination, exclusion based on disability, sensory sensitivities, and language issues — that impede the ability of autistic people to enjoy the company of others.

Simon Baron-Cohen is a professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University and the director of the Autism Research Centre. Sally Wheelwright worked as a Research Assistant, a Research Associate, and the Deputy Director of the Autism Research Centre from 1996 to 2010. She is currently involved in cancer research.

Baron-Cohen, Simon, Jennifer Richler, Dheraj Bisarya, Nhishanth Gurunathan, and Sally Wheelwright. “The Systemizing Quotient: an investigation of adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism, and normal sex differences.” Philosophical Translations of the Royal Society 358, no. 1430 (February 28, 2003): 361-374. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2002.1206.

A paper introducing the Systemizing Quotient (SQ) test, a self-report questionnaire that purports to measure an individual’s systemizing abilities. The authors define systemizing as the ability to understand and create systems. They begin with the theory that males are better systemizers and that females are better empathizers, and they then set out to test that formulation. The SQ test consists of 60 items, of which 20 are filler statements. The researchers carried out two studies using the SQ test — one with a group of non-autistic men and women, and one with a group of men and woman with a diagnosis of Asperger’s or high-functioning autism (HFA). The results of the first study showed that men scored higher on the SQ than women, that women scored higher on the Empathy Quotient (EQ) test than men, and that the results of each test, for both genders, were inversely correlated. The results of the second study showed that respondents with Asperger’s and HFA scored higher on the SQ than controls, from which the researchers draw support for both their extreme-male-brain theory of autism and their empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory of autism, both of which posit that autistic people have an overabundance of “masculine” cognitive and emotional attributes, and a deficit in “feminine” cognitive and emotional attributes.

There are three basic problems with the study: 1) the traits assumed to be “masculine” in origin are culture-specific; 2) there is an unexamined level of essentialism, in that the researchers assume that there are male and female characteristics that can be measured outside of cultural constructs; and 3) the study did not offer the respondents any actual systemizing tasks, but only relied upon self-report (as noted in Buchen 2011).

The authors of this study are past and present researchers in the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

Baron-Cohen, Simon and Sally Wheelwright. “The Empathy Quotient: An Investigation of Adults with Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism, and Normal Sex Differences.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 34, no. 2 (April 2004): 163-175. http://www.autismresearchcentre.com/docs/papers/2004_BCandSW_EQ.pdf.

A paper introducing the Empathy Quotient (EQ) test, a diagnostic tool frequently used as one of the primary measures of empathy in autistic people. The results of the EQ test are often brought forward to support the twin contentions that a) autistic people have below-average levels of empathy and b) autism is, by definition, a low-empathy condition. The test consists of a series of 60 statements (including 20 filler questions) to which the respondent must answer Definitely agree, Slightly agree, Slightly disagree, or Definitely disagree. Of the 40 statements geared toward measuring empathy on the EQ test, the vast majority ― 27 ― have primarily to do with cognitive empathy. Some of these statements encompass both cognitive and emotional components, but in them, a lack of cognitive empathy is an implicit explanation for the lack of a normative emotional response. Because the test was developed without including the perspectives of autistic people, it suffers from numerous flaws and biases that make its usefulness as a diagnostic tool highly questionable.

Simon Baron-Cohen is a professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University and the director of the Autism Research Centre. Sally Wheelwright worked as a Research Assistant, a Research Associate, and the Deputy Director of the Autism Research Centre from 1996 to 2010. She is currently involved in cancer research.

Baron-Cohen, Simon, Sally Wheelwright, Janine Robinson, and Marc Woodbury-Smith. “The Adult Asperger Assessment (AAA): A Diagnostic Method.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 35, no. 6 (December 2005): 807-819. doi: 10.1007/s10803-005-0026-5.

A paper that introduces the Adult Asperger Assessment (AAA), a diagnostic test of Asperger’s Syndrome in adults. The test is scored in conjunction with the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and Empathy Quotient (EQ) tests. In a study of 42 subjects, 88% qualified for diagnosis according to the DSM-IV criteria, while only 80% qualified for a diagnosis according to the AAA criteria, making the AAA the more conservative of the two test instruments. The hidden biases of the AAA, particular with regard to measuring empathy, bear further examination.

The authors of this study are past and present researchers in the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

Baron-Cohen, Simon. “Autism: The Empathizing–Systemizing (E-S) Theory.” The Year in Cognitive Neuroscience, 68-80. New York, NY: New York Academy of Sciences, 2009. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04467.x.

A paper that introduces the Empathizing-Systemizing (E-S) Theory of autism, a theory based on the notion that autism is a disorder marked by an excessively “masculine” cognitive style that places love of systems over love of people. The E-S Theory is an extension of the Extreme-Male-Brain Theory, in which the author describes systemizing as a biologically based male trait and empathizing as a biologically based female trait (Baron-Cohen 2002). The E-S Theory reduces the complex processes of systemizing and empathizing into polar opposites on a simple, flat linear continuum, with autistic people at the bottom end of the empathy scale, very neatly ruling out the clear possibility that anyone could be a high systemizer and a high empathizer.

Simon Baron-Cohen is a professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University and the director of the Autism Research Centre.

Baron-Cohen, Simon. The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2011.

A book replete with simplistic and pejorative stereotypes, The Science of Evil is relentless in its portrayal of the autistic capacity for affective and cognitive empathy as highly impaired. The author asserts, without qualification of any kind, that people with Asperger’s and with classic autism are incapable of empathy and on the zero end of the empathy scale. While it is true that Baron-Cohen attempts to redeem autistic people as “Zero-Positive” because they have “systemizing” minds that can lead to talent and innovation (rather than “Zero-Negative,” which is reserved for psychopaths), he leaves out of the equation the vast majority of autistic people who have no special talent for innovation in any field at all. Hundreds of thousands of autistic people thereby lose the already dubiously redemptive “Positive” label. He also goes to great lengths to insist that people with Asperger’s develop a moral code not because they are informed by an empathic response to others, but only out of a drive to systemize. When others act unethically, he writes, people with Asperger’s leap to the defense of the injured party — not because they are moved by empathy for the other person, but because they’re simply upset that the rules have been broken. Of course, this explanation rather begs the question of why anyone without an empathic response to the difficulties of other people would construct a moral code in the first place. Finally, without any data to back up his assertions, Baron-Cohen characterizes people with classic autism as viewing their parents as objects to serve their desires, and places them outside the field of both empathic and ethical response.

Simon Baron-Cohen is a professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University and the director of the Autism Research Centre.

Baxter, Peter. “Disability and Sexuality.” Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 50, no. 8 (August 2008): 563. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2008.03039.x.

An editorial in which the author notes that the sexual needs of disabled people are either ignored altogether (the assumption being that disabled people are asexual), or approached differently depending on whether the person is male or female (with males sometimes being offered the services of a prostitute, and females sometimes being given surgery to keep them from menstruating or becoming pregnant).

Peter Baxter is a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital in Sheffield, UK, specializing in ataxia, spinal disorders, and neuromuscular conditions.

Bedi, Gillinder, David Hyman, and Harriet de Wit. “Is Ecstasy an ‘Empathogen’? Effects of ±3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine on Prosocial Feelings and Identification of Emotional States in Others.” Biological Psychiatry 68, no. 12 (2010): 1134-1140. https://www.esotericpharma.org/papers/Bedi,%20Hyman,%20de%20Wit%20-%20Is%20Ecstasy%20an%20Empathogen.pdf.

A study that purports to show the impact of MDMA (Ecstasy) on empathy and social behavior. The researchers conclude that MDMA increases social feelings, such as friendliness, but results in a markedly decreased ability to register threatening facial cues, an important part of empathic recognition of mental states. Nonetheless, the researchers suggest that psychotherapists might want to include MDMA when working with people who have social disorders — an odd suggestion, given that their tests indicate that the drug interferes with being able to safely navigate social situations, and that its long-term effects on the brain are unknown.

Gillinder Bedi is an assistant professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University and a research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. David Hyman is a former lab member of the Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory (HBPL) at the University of Chicago. Harriet de Wit is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, and the director of the Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory (HBPL), at the University of Chicago.

Bell, Jill Sinclair. “Narrative Inquiry: More Than Just Telling Stories.”Tesol Quarterly 36, no. 2 (2002): 207-213. http://www.lesn.appstate.edu/clark-keefe/All%20readings/Greg,%20Kim,%20Bart-OPTIONAL%20Narrative%20Inquiry,%20More%20Than.pdf.

In this excellent piece, Bell discusses the practice of narrative inquiry, a method that rests on the assumption that we all tell stories about our lives in order to bring sense and meaning to our experiences. The author suggests that each story we tell involves deeper and deeper layers of other stories, and that we include or exclude certain elements of those stories in order to protect our conception of ourselves and of our world. As a research approach, Bell asserts, narrative inquiry has the potential for analyzing the layered nature of our stories, and exposing the assumptions, biases, values, power dynamics, hopes, dreams, and fears that we express through them. The process is a collaborative one, bringing to light the researcher’s own stories as well as those of the participants.

In her piece, Bell outlines three reasons for using a narrative approach: 1) the ability to understand lived experience, rather than simply the outcomes measure by quantitative methods, 2) the opportunity to understand issues of which the research participants may not be consciously aware, and 3) the potential for tracing the ways in which experience changes over time. She cautions that while narrative inquiry can pose a healthy challenge to the hierarchical nature of academic discourse and give marginalized groups a voice, researchers must take care to tell the participants’ stories in a way that is neither appropriative nor disempowering.

Jill Sinclair Bell is a professor in the Department of Education at the University of Toronto. She teaches courses in language and literacy, oral language use in classrooms, and narrative research.

Bird, Geoffrey, Giorgia Silani, Rachel Brindley, Sarah White, Uta Frith, and Tania Singer. “Empathic brain responses in insula are modulated by levels of alexithymia but not autism.” Brain: A Journal of Neurology 133, no. 5 (2010): 1515-1525. doi: 10.1093/brain/awq060.

A study that tests whether a deficit in emotional empathy correlates with autism, or whether it is due to a separate condition known as alexithymia, an inability to identify one’s own emotions. Researchers draw a distinction between Theory of Mind (ToM) and emotional empathy, theorizing that one would have no impact on the other and that, in fact, different areas of brain processing are involved. They administered three self-report questionnaires to 18 males with autism and 18 typically developing males. To test for the subjects’ estimation of their own empathic responses, they used the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI); to test for alexithymia, they used the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia scale (TAS-20) and the Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire (BVAC). Then, the researchers gave all the participants the empathy-for-pain test while performing MRI scans of the anterior insula and of the whole brain to test for an emotional empathic response. 

The study resulted in two significant findings. First, the scores on the IRI were inversely correlated with the scores on the TAS-20 and BVAC. The researchers suggest that there are two reasons: a) because the respondents had difficulty naming emotion, they might have underestimated their empathic responses and b) an inability to articulate one’s own emotions might have a significant impact on the ability to name the emotions of others, resulting in a lower empathic response. The second finding showed that lower empathy-for-pain responses were correlated with higher degrees of alexithymia for both the autistic and non-autistic controls, but were not correlated in any way with the presence of autism. Thus, while the researchers leave open the question of whether autistic people have impaired ToM, they conclude that autism is not a condition defined by a deficit in emotional empathy.

The authors are all researchers associated with the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London as current members, alumni, or collaborating professionals.

Blogtalkradio. “Autism and Activism.” http://www.blogtalkradio.com/themaryandsallieshow/2012/04/29/the-mary-and-sallie-show-autism-parents-call-in. April 29, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

A radio program featuring Joan Campbell, one of the administrators of the Autism Mothers Facebook page, an activist concerned with vaccine safety, and the mother of a child she believes became autistic as a result of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The program is part of a series in which parents who believe their children to be vaccine injured come on the air to tell their stories — an excellent example of the way in which disability becomes a narrative that explains the path from “wellness” to “injury.”

The host of “Autism and Activism,” Sallie O. Elkordy, believes that vaccines cause autism and is the sponsor of a petition calling on state and federal legislators to ban vaccines.

Bogdan, Robert. “The Social Construction of Freaks.” In Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body, edited by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, 23-37. New York, NY: New York University Press, 1996.

In this article, the author describes the ways in which disabled people, gender-nonconforming people, and people of color were marketed as “freaks,” as though they were commodities, in the circus and carnival freak shows of the period between 1840 and 1940. Bogdan argues that freak-show promoters used two different and sometimes intertwining strategies — the “exotic presentation” and the “aggrandized status presentation.” In the “exotic presentation,” promoters constructed a story in which the person was said to have come from what was considered an exotic part of the world — such as Africa, Asia, Borneo, or Turkey — and presented in ways that communicated bestiality, savagery, and danger. By contrast, in the “aggrandized status presentation,” the person was said to have come from a social position superior to that of the audience, and often acquired titles such as “Major,” “General,” “Princess,” and “Queen.” A disabled person might be shown doing a task one might not have expected, such as eating with his or her feet; another person might sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. The emphasis was upon the person’s “normalcy” even as the audience was made aware of the person’s differences.

In both modes, a great deal of fictionalizing went into the representations, with entire family and cultural histories being fabricated in order to bring in the audience; at the same time, promoters brought in doctors, natural scientists, historians, and others to vouch for the “authenticity” of the information. Ultimately, Bogdan argues, we should interpret the word “freak” not as a descriptor of a person’s body, but as a set of constructions by which others present that person to the world.

Robert Bogdan is a professor of Cultural Foundations of Education and Sociology and the director of the Social Science Doctoral Program at Syracuse University. He specializes in the field of qualitative research and has a particular interest in analyzing visual representations of disability. His books include Introduction to Qualitative Research and Freak Show.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

A book that describes how to choose a topic, organize one’s research, and create a written product that provides a well-argued solution to a clearly articulated problem. Chapter 3, “From Topics to Questions,” provides a number of excellent strategies for how to make the shift from a broad interest, to a broad topic, to a specific topic, and then to specific questions. The authors suggest ways in which to ask fruitful questions, including turning a positive question into a negative one, and asking how, why, and what if? questions. Chapter 6, “Engaging Sources,” provides helpful ideas for using sources both to formulate a research question and to articulate an argument, with good tips on when to summarize, when to paraphrase, and when to provide direct quotes.

Wayne C. Booth and Joseph M. Williams were professors of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. Gregory G. Colomb was a professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Virginia.

Boyd, Nicola. “A Creative Writing Research Methodology: new directions, Strange Loops and tornados.” Margins and Mainstreams: Refereed conference papers of the 14th Annual AAWP Conference, 2009. http://aawp.org.au/files/Boyd.pdf.

An excellent piece that discusses the possibilities for moving beyond Practitioner-Led Research (PLR) into new ways of describing the creative writing process. By using the visual images of a spiral, a tornado, Escher’s two hands drawing, and a Strange Loop, the author suggests new ways of envisioning the methodology used by creative writers. Her aim is to describe that methodology in order to make it useful to others, and to create a model that writers can use to evaluate and improve their research processes. She envisions a flexible framework that will make use of a variety of research methods, including Converging Strange Loop Research (CSLR), a method that entails exploring the spirals of reading, writing, experience, and critical thought that are generated by the process of creative writing.

Nicola Boyd is a PhD student in Creative Writing at Griffith University. In her PhD work, she focuses on developing new research paradigms for creative writers in academia.

Briant, Emma, Nick Watson, and Greg Philo. Bad News for Disabled People: How the Newspapers Are Reporting Disability. Glasgow, UK: Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research and the Glasgow Media Unit, University of Glasgow, 2010.

In this report, the contributors use content analysis to examine reporting on disability in five newspapers in the UK for the period 2010-2011, and then compare their findings to previous research they carried out for the period 2004-2005. They find that the number of negative representations of disabled people has gone up significantly, and that the number of representations showing disabled people in a positive light has decreased sharply. In general, the researchers note, the newspapers represent disabled people as morally corrupt burdens on society and use three different approaches to do so: disabled people are spoken of as a drain on the economy and, in some cases, as responsible for Britain’s economic problems; fraudulent disability claims are represented as far more common than they actually are; and the claimants are attacked as promiscuous, lazy, and irresponsible.

Emma Briant is a research fellow in the Glasgow Media Group. Nick Watson is a professor of Disability Research and the director of the Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research at the University of Glasgow. His areas of specialization include disability theory and disability history. Greg Philo is a professor of Communications and Social Change at the University of Glasgow and the director of the Glasgow Media Group. His areas of specialization include analysis of media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, of the Falklands War, and of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Bronner, Stephen Eric. Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011.

In this excellent summary of the history of critical theory originating with the Frankfurt School in the 1930s, the author begins by defining critical theory as a mode of thought dedicated to the notion that, in order to transform the world, we must radically critique all philosophies, ideologies, practices, and forms of government. The aim is to create liberation from oppressive economic, social, and psychological structures that teach subservience and conformity; to do so, one must constantly modify critical theory to suit changing historical circumstance.

Bronner does an excellent job of summarizing the origins of critical theory in Kantian and Hegelian philosophy and Western Marxism, and covers the ideas of such leading proponents of the Frankfurt School as George Lukacs, Karl Korsch, Max Horkheimer, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Jurgen Habermas. While each thinker had very different aims and approaches, they all had a number of concerns in common: 1) the rejection of the idea that liberation could come from one particular ideology or social system, 2) the belief that one had to address changing historical circumstances with changing methods of critique; 3) the commitment to the liberation of the human body and psyche from oppressive structures; 4) the protection of individuality, subjective experience, and human happiness against the forces of homogenization, hegemony, and cruelty; and 5) the rejection of phenomenology (with its universal claims about human experience) and positivism (with its insistence on analyzing human society by means of a scientific method devoid of ethical concerns). In the face of what its proponents referred to as “alienation” (the psychological impact of capitalist modes of production), and “reification” (the treatment of people as commodities) in the period after World War II, critical theory moved from questions of political engagement to the belief that social transformation was possible only by freeing the individual psyche and spirit.

Stephen Eric Bronner is a professor of Political Science, Comparative Literature, and German Studies at Rutgers University and the Director of Global Relations at the Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights. He is a political philosopher concerned with the question of how to move political theory away from abstract academic philosophy and into the service of progressive political causes.

Brown, Lerita M. Coleman. “Stigma: An Enigma Demystified.” In The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, 179-192. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

In this article, the author poses a number of questions about the nature of stigma and the way in which it operates, both within individuals and in the society at large. Beginning with Erving Goffman’s characterization of stigma as an “undesired differentness,” Brown seeks to place the process of stigmatization in social context by exploring the following questions: What is the purpose of stigma? Why do some attributes become stigmatized in social and historical contexts, while others do not? How can we reduce stigma?

In order to explain the process of stigmatization, Brown creates a framework that includes three categories: 1) an “affective” component, in which fear is attached to difference; 2) a “cognitive” component, in which the human need for social categorization devolves into degrading stereotypes that blot out individual characteristics, devalue members of a group, and represent some individuals as superior to others; and 3) a “behavioral” component, in which people use stigma to rationalize exploitation and exclusion, and to maintain majority-minority power relationships. Brown does not have any hard and fast solutions to the problem of stigma, but she does suggest a number of strategies, including the need for both stigmatized and nonstigmatized people to take personal responsibility for critiquing social norms, for fighting the rigid economic, political, and social hierarchies that stigma upholds, and for creating a world in which people see the benefits of looking at similarities among human beings, rather than focusing solely on difference.

Lerita M. Coleman Brown is the Ayse I. Carden Distinguished Professor of Psychology and the director of the Generating Excellence in Math and Science program at Agnes Scott College, where her areas of specialization include the subjects of stigma and identity.

Brown, Rebecca Dosch. “’Screw normal’: Resisting the myth of normal by questioning media’s depiction of people with autism and their families.” Minnesota Symposium in Disability Studies (2011). http://blog.lib.umn.edu/gara0030/iggds/Screw%20Normal_FINAL_Dosch%20Brown.pdf.

In this article, Dosch Brown analyzes the way in which the media uses a socially constructed ideal of “normal” in its pejorative representations of autistic people. She focuses on a television segment called “Siblings with Autism” that aired on WPIX in New York in April of 2011. The program interviewed the typically developing siblings of autistic children, framing their experience in a way that reinforced cultural stereotypes of disability as a burden, a tragedy, and an injustice to others. Dosch Brown brings to bear a number of different methods in her critique, employing critical race theory (CRT), Social Construction of Disablement (SCOD) theory, disability theory, and the principles of the Neurodiversity movement.

She sets up her critique of her primary source, the WPIX program, by discussing a number of secondary sources by such scholars and activists as Michel Foucault, Beth Haller, Simi Linton, and Melanie Yergeau. Then, she introduces the concept of “news frames” developed by Haller, Ralph, and Zaks in their 2010 article “How the US news media report disability,” in which the authors define a news frame as a set of organizing principles employed by people in the media to create their storylines — principles that go unremarked and uncritiqued by most observers, with the result that the outlook underlying the storyline is considered “normal” and “obvious.” In the course of deconstructing each part of the program as a news frame, Dosch Brown shares her responses, speaking not just as an academic bringing social critique to bear, but also as the mother of an autistic son recognizing the consequences to her child of the ways in which the media frames disability.

Rebecca Dosch Brown is a poet, a fiction writer, and a Student Services Advisor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. In addition to working as an academic advisor, she has been a university lecturer, a high school teacher, a poet-in-residence, and a teacher and researcher in Japan. Ms. Dosch Brown holds a BA in English literature and an MFA in creative writing, along with certificates in educational technologies and disability policy and services. She is also the mother of an autistic son.

Brownlow, Charlotte and Lindsay O’Dell. “Constructing an Autistic Identity: AS Voices Online.” Mental Retardation 44, no. 5 (October 2006): 315-321. doi: 10.1352/0047-6765(2006)44[315:CAAIAV]2.0.CO;2.

A paper that discusses the ways in which autistic people in an online forum a) discuss whether the authority for expert knowledge of autism resides with non-autistic professionals or with autistic people, and b) work on constructing a positive autistic identity by inverting the normative idea that “normal” is superior to “atypical.” With permission, Brownlow and O’Dell became silent observers of an online chat group for four months, after which time they performed a qualitative analysis of the postings. They conclude that online forums with autistic participants provide information that can make the experiences of autistic people central to autism research, although they question whether autism professionals will accede to sharing their power and authority with their research subjects. The authors also find that the Internet provides a crucial venue in which autistic people can work on the formation of an identity that is not based on the deficit model.

Charlotte Brownlow is a lecturer in Psychology at the University of Southern Queensland, where her research interests include autism, disability studies, and neurodiversity. Lindsay O’Dell is the Director of Post Graduate Studies for the Faculty of Health and Social Care at The Open University. Her research interests include studying children with atypical neurologies, including children with autism.

Brueggeman, Brenda J. “An Enabling Pedagogy: Meditations on Writing and Disability.” JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory 21, no. 4 (Fall 2001): 791-820. http://www.jaconlinejournal.com/archives/vol21.4/bruegemann-enabling.pdf.

A wonderful paper in which the author shares her reflections on teaching freshman courses in English composition through the lens of “disability as insight.” Brueggemann guides her students toward looking at a range of social issues through the lens of disability, and helps them to think about what disability has to teach about beauty and about the possibilities for how human bodies can navigate through life. She finds that a number of issues concerning disability and representation come to the fore in her teaching: 1) the lack of disabled people speaking to disability issues in the public, mainstream world; 2) the economics of creating disability access; 3) the difficulty of discerning where able-bodiedness ends and disability begins; 4) the ways in which mainstream disability representations by nondisabled people contrast with first-person accounts by disabled people; 5) the discomfort of not knowing how to respond to disability; and 6) the lack of a single theoretical frame for analyzing disability as an academic subject and an everyday experience.

Brenda J. Brueggeman is a professor of English at Ohio State University and the Vice Chair of the Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy (RCL) Program. She specializes in the areas of rhetoric and composition, gender and sexuality studies, disability studies, and Deaf studies. She is the author of Lend Me Your Ear: Rhetorical Constructions of Deafness and Deaf Subjects: Between Identities and Places.

Buchen, Lizzie. “Scientists and autism: When geeks meet.” Nature 479 (November 2, 2011): 25-27. http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111102/full/479025a.html.

An article that contains two categories of information relevant to my work: a) a dehumanizing statement by Bryna Siegal that implies that people with autistic traits should not marry, and b) criticism of Simon Baron-Cohen’s Empathizing-Systemizing (E-S) theory. His former graduate advisor and colleague, Uta Frith, notes that Baron-Cohen’s tests measuring the ability to systemize depend on self-report rather than performance on systemizing tasks, and autism researcher Liz Pellicano notes that when autistic children were given systemizing tasks in a study she carried out, they scored worse than controls.

Lizzie Buchen is a freelance science journalist who has written for such publications as Nature, The Economist, Scientific American, New Scientist, and Science NOW.

Butler, Judith. “Critically Queer.” In The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, edited by Donald E. Hall and Annamarie Jagose, 18-31. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.

In this essay, Butler explores the notion of “performativity,” which she defines not as the way that people perform their roles, but as the way that cultural norms and power structures perform through human beings in order to constitute their identities, particularly their gender identities. She takes the rather extreme position that there is no self that precedes discourse; for Butler, discourse creates both self and experience. Moreover, in her thinking, the term “queer” denotes an instability of human identity that can never be reduced to an essential self. The notion that the self and experience are formed only through discourse fails to take into account, as Tobin Siebers has pointed out, that there are harsh realities that are not simply linguistic constructs — harsh realities like pain, social exclusion, systemic injustice, and physical impairment.

Judith Butler is a professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, where she specializes in post-structuralism, feminist philosophy, and queer theory. She also serves on the advisory board of the journal Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture. Her books includeGender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity and Undoing Gender.

Byron, Margaret, Zoe Cockshott, Hilary Brownett, and Tina Ramkalawan. “What does ‘disability’ mean for medical students? An exploration of the words medical students associate with the term ‘disability.’” Medical Education 39 (2005): 176–183. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2929.2004.02062.x.

In this article, Margaret Byron and her colleagues discuss a study they carried out regarding the concepts, descriptors, and images that medical students associate with disability. With a twofold purpose of understanding how better to teach medical students about disability and ascertaining whether a short course would change the way that medical students think about the issue, the researchers analyzed the words the students associated with disability before and after a four-day course and two focus group sessions. They found that before the course, the students tended to use negative and depersonalizing terms associated with loss, victimization, and the medical model of disability, and that afterward, they tended to use more positive terms associated with personal empowerment and the impact of social forces. While their research is cause for cautious optimism about the potential of a disability course to change hearts and minds, Byron and her associates fall short of a more rigorous analysis that would move past the problem of language and into the social construction of disability that underlies language. In the article, this shortcoming manifests itself in three ways: in the uncritical assumption that certain words, when applied to disabled people, are positive or negative; in the idea that one should attempt to see the person, not the impairment; and in the ways in which the students interacted with disabled people.

Margaret Byron, Zoe Cockshott, and Hilary Brownett teach in the Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Bristol. Tina Ramkalawan teaches in the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Bristol. At the time of the study, the lead researcher, Margaret Byron, was a Senior Lecturer in Disability at the University of Bristol and the Project Director for Partners in Practice, where she worked to create equality in healthcare for disabled people.

Campbell, Fiona A. Kumari. “Exploring internalized ableism using critical race theory.” Disability & Society 23, no. 2 (March 2008): 151-162. doi: 10.1080/09687590701841190.

In this article, Campbell explores the processes by which disabled people internalize oppression in the form of ableism. She begins by drawing a distinction between the terms disabilism and ableism. For Campbell, the term disabilism represents the idea and practices by which disability is constructed, and by which disabled people are discriminated against in society; ableism, on the other hand, is the construction of ability as the sine qua non of human worth, with the result that disabled people are known and understood as “less than.”

Campbell then uses critical race theory (CRT) and its analysis of internalized racism in order to illuminate the ways in which disabled people internalize ableism. She contends that internalized ableism is both created and perpetuated by two strategies: “tactics of dispersal,” in which disabled people are counseled that associating with one another is shameful — tactics that can take the shape of liberal mandates about achievement, inclusion, and integration into able-bodied society; and “emulating the norm,” a process by which disabled people become alienated from their own bodies and minds by attempting to pass as able-bodied or by devaluing their disabilities as unimportant aspects of themselves. The paper ends with a plea for further investigation into the impact of internalized ableism on the personal and collective lives of disabled people, for research into counter-narratives to the “overcoming adversity” stories that put disability in a wholly negative light, and for a critique of the notion of the margins as a place of victimization and powerlessness from which disabled people need to be rescued, rather than as a place of resistance in which disabled people create connections for mutual support and activism.

Fiona A. Kumari Campbell is an assistant professor at the Griffith Law School at Griffith University. As a scholar and activist, she has a long history of work regarding the civil rights and welfare of marginalized people, and she specializes in both disability studies and legal theory. Her book, Contours of Ableism, was published in 2009, and she has two additional books in progress: The Unveiling of (Dis)ability: Essays on Silence, Voice & Imprints and Crippin’ the Law: Jurisprudential Narratives of Impairment & Reasonableness.

Casling, Dennis. “Cobblers and Song-birds: The Language and Imagery of Disability.” Disability & Society 8, no. 2 (1993): 203-210. doi: 10.1080/02674649366780161.

An article in which the author, who is blind, discusses the results of a two-and-a-half hour workshop in which he evoked from the participants ― all non-disabled ― the language, imagery, judgments, and feelings that they brought to the subject of disability. The author is a social constructionist steeped in deconstruction and post-modernism; thus, he approaches language both as an expression of and as a means of social control and identity formation.

In the workshop, Casling asked each participant to tell a story about disability and power. After listening to the stories, he led a group discussion in which he analyzed the contents of each person’s story. He found that, despite the fact that the members of the group were well aware of issues of prejudice regarding race and gender, their stories reflected the most basic, pejorative stereotypes of disabled people that our society has to offer. In the stories, disabled people were angry, frustrated, depressed, wicked, and otherworldly; more than one participant used elements of myth and legend. Moreover, when asked to describe the feelings that were evoked in them by disabled people, the participants used words like anxiety, guilt, anger, and hate. In the face of these results, the author wonders whether disabled people can and should look for allies among able-bodied people, and concludes that the disability rights movement should form alliances with other oppressed peoples.

Dennis Casling is a disability equality consultant and a poet.

CDC. “Possible Side-effects from Vaccines.” http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm. Accessed December 2, 2012.

A page on the website of the Centers for Disease Control providing a comprehensive list of the possible side effects of each available vaccine.

Chapman, Emma, Simon Baron-Cohen, and Bonnie Auyeung. “Fetal testosterone and empathy: Evidence from the Empathy Quotient (EQ) and the ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’ Test.” Social Neuroscience 1, no. 2 (2006): 135-148. doi: 10.1080/17470910600992239.

A study that looks at the correlation between empathy in children and foetal testosterone. The researchers asked 193 mothers of children between the ages of six and eight to fill out the child’s version of the Empathy Quotient (EQ-C) test, and then administered the ‘‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’’ Task (Eyes-C) to the children. Chapman, Baron-Cohen, and Auyeung found an inverse correlation between levels of foetal testosterone and empathy scores: the higher the levels of foetal testosterone, the lower the empathy scores. For the researchers, these results support the Extreme-Male-Brain Theory and the Empathizing-Systemizing (E-S) Theory of autism, which both posit that males are high systemizers and low empathizers, and that autism is evidence of a male-gendered brain.

There are three problems with the tests: 1) the questionnaires were filled out by the mothers of the children, not by a clinician, and yet the results are presented as objective measures of the ways in which the children manifest empathy; 2) the traits assumed to be “masculine” and “feminine” in origin ― in this case, particular modes of empathic expression ― are cultural in nature; and 3) there is an unexamined level of essentialism, in that the researchers assume that there are male and female characteristics that can be measured outside of cultural constructs. While the authors grudgingly acknowledge that the children’s life experiences might affect the nature of their empathic expression, they nonetheless hold fast to the idea that foetal testosterone plays a role in empathic response, even though they have proved only correlation, not causation.

The authors of this study are past and present researchers in the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

Cherney, James L. “The Rhetoric of Ableism.” Disability Studies Quarterly 31, no. 3 (2011). http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/1665/1606.

An excellent article in which the author discusses the interplay of ideology and rhetoric, and argues that in addition to focusing on systemic discrimination, activists in the disability rights movement need to focus on deconstructing the rhetoric of ableism that underlies such discrimination. Cherney addresses the issue of how to critique rhetoric that, by presenting itself as “objective” or “obvious,” denies it is rhetoric at all. In order to carry out such a critique, he creates and develops the concept of “rhetorical norms” — cultural warrants that are considered self-evident and beyond analysis — in order to expose the ableism embedded in language and culture. After discussing the ableist rhetorical norms “deviance is evil” and “body is able” (the latter being a reference to the notion that all ability resides in the body, rather than in the relationship between the body and the built environment), he analyzes Aristotle’s Generation of Animals as an example of the use of the ableist rhetorical norm “normal is natural.” Finally, Cherney explores the benefits, for disabled people and other oppressed groups, of creating neologisms in order to interrupt and transform ableist rhetoric.

James L. Cherney is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University. His areas of specialization include rhetoric and critical theory, particularly with reference to disability and the disability rights movement.

Child Health Safety. “30 Years of Secret Official Transcripts Show UK Government Experts Cover Up Vaccine Hazards to Sell More Vaccines and Harm Your Kids.” http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/government-experts-cover-up-vaccine-hazards/. March 14, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

An article about a paper published by Lucija Tomljenovic, a British doctor who believes that the government of the UK conspired to mislead the public about vaccinations. Dr. Tomljenovic alleges that transcripts he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) engaged in a large-scale conspiracy with pharmaceutical companies over the course of 30 years and did the following: 1) withheld information about adverse vaccine reactions in order to keep vaccination rates up; 2) worked with pharmaceutical companies to increase vaccination rates for the sake of profit; 3) ignored safety concerns; 4) overstated the benefits of vaccines; 5) relied on studies using poor methodology; 6) knowingly based their decisions on poor science; and 7) threw roadblocks in the way of research into vaccine safety. This article and the paper on which it is based are both excellent examples of the mindset of conspiracy theorists who believe that government, the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical profession intend to make the population sick for profit.

The Child Health Safety site is an anti-vaccination site that posts articles in response to what its owners consider the lies and misinformation disseminated by government and the medical establishment about vaccination.

Child Health Safety. Flu Vaccine Caused 3587 US Miscarriages & Stillbirths.” http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/flu-vaccine-caused-3587-us-miscarriages-%C2%A0stillbirths/. September 22, 2010. Accessed December 2, 2012.

An article that alleges that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conspired to cover up 3,587 miscarriages allegedly caused by the H1N1 vaccine. The article’s thesis is based on reports in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) — a system that allows anyone to report an event that followed a vaccination whether or not any proof exists that a vaccine caused the problem. CDC officials investigate the incidents reported to VAERS and, in most cases, determine that a vaccine did not cause the stated issue.

Child Health Safety is an anti-vaccination site.

Chura, Lindsay R., Michael V. Lombardo, Emma Ashwin, Bonnie Auyeung, Bhismadev Chakrabarti, Edward T. Bullmore, and Simon Baron-Cohen. “Organizational effects of fetal testosterone on human corpus callosum size and asymmetry.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 35, no. 1 (2010): 122-132. http://people.pwf.cam.ac.uk/ml437/papers/chura_lombardo_pnec_ft_corpuscallosum.pdf.

A study showing that levels of foetal testosterone were directly proportional to variations in the area of the brain known as the corpus callosum in 28 boys between the ages of 8 and 11. The researchers suggest that the correlation they found might explain cognitive and behavioral differences between those with the variation and those without, but adduce no evidence to support that conclusion.

The authors of this study are past and present researchers in the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

Connelly, F. Michael and D. Jean Clandinin. “Stories of Experience and Narrative Inquiry.” Educational Researcher 19, no. 5 (June–July, 1990): 2-14. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176100.

A very insightful piece that describes the philosophy and practice of narrative inquiry. According to the authors, the aim of narrative inquiry is to discern the complex, multilayered way in which both researchers and participants constantly live their stories, tell their stories, rewrite their stories, and relive these rewritings. Noting that narrative inquiry rests on a collaborative and empowering relationship of mutual respect between researchers and participants, the authors specify the essential components of that relationship: equality among participants, a caring environment, a feeling of connection, adequate time and space, and the opportunity for all participants to speak in their own authentic voices. These elements are particularly important for participants from marginalized groups who are accustomed to having their voices silenced in research.

After specifying the conditions for effective narrative inquiry, Connelly and Clandinin describe the data collection methods available to researchers, including field notes, interviews, observations, storytelling, letters, and autobiography. They go on to describe possible criteria for assessing the outcome of narrative inquiry, and they describe the ways in which researchers can develop plot and scene in their writing. The authors caution that the most challenging aspect of writing a narrative is to leave it open-ended so that readers can see the issues that the narrative has failed to address, and so that those who examine the research can chart own courses in the retelling and reliving of the narrative.

F. Michael Connelly is the director of the Centre for Teacher Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. D. Jean Clandinin is the director of the Centre for Research for Teacher Education and Development at the University of Alberta. Connelly and Clandinin co-authored Narrative Inquiry: Experience and Story in Qualitative Research, along with three other books and a number of articles. Connelly is also the editor of Curriculum Inquiry, while Clandinin edited the Handbook of Narrative Inquiry: Mapping a Methodology and was co-author of Composing Diverse Identities.

Constantino, John N., Thomas Przybeck, Darrin Friesen, and Richard D. Todd. “Reciprocal social behavior in children with and without pervasive developmental disorders.” Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 21, no. 1 (February 2000): 2-11. doi: 10.1097/00004703-200002000-00001.

A study that introduces a test of reciprocal social behavior (RSB) called the Social Reciprocity Scale. The researchers asked the teachers of 287 children and the parents of 158 children with psychiatric diagnoses to fill out the questionnaire. When they analyzed the results, they found that children with pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs), including autism, scored lower than controls on the every measure. The test, however, is rife with problems. Many of the questions — such as “Exhibits strange or bizarre ideas or behavior” and “Clumsy, not well-coordinated” — seem to have little to do with social reciprocity. Other questions — such as “Regarded by other children as odd or weird” — seem to have more to do with the social reciprocity of the child’s schoolmates than anything else. All in all, the test fails to account for other factors — such as bullying, discrimination, exclusion based on disability, sensory sensitivities, and language issues — as alternative explanations for why developmentally disabled children might be unable to initiate or maintain reciprocal relationships.

John N. Constantino holds an MD degree and is a professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine. Thomas Przybeck (PhD) and Darrin Friesen (MD) are professors in the department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine. Richard D. Todd holds both an MD and a PhD, and is a professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Genetics at Washington University School of Medicine.

Cooperrider, David L. and Diana Whitney. “A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry.” Draft. http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/uploads/whatisai.pdf.

An excellent piece that discusses the principles of the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) research method and some of the ways to implement them. The authors assert that researchers and participants must move past a problem-solving approach and use such strategies as AI, which capitalizes on a positive vision of human potential and a clearly articulated dream of the kind of world we want to create. After arguing convincingly that the questions that one asks at the outset determine the success of the research project, the authors explore the four steps of the AI process: Discovery (asking questions that bring out all the strengths and positive aspects of the organization or community), Dream (asking questions about what we want the organization or community to become), Design (developing possibilities that will capitalize on our strengths and our higher selves), and Destiny (keeping the whole system moving in a positive direction). The authors make the excellent point that concentrating exclusively on all of the problems in a given situation can lead even the most committed person into a state of paralysis and despair, and they argue passionately against a deficit model that keeps power imbalances in place and that disempowers people from creating life-affirming organizations and communities.

David L. Cooperrider serves as the chairman of the SIGMA Program for Human Cooperation and Global Action, and is an associate professor of Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University. Diana Whitney is the president of the Corporation for Positive Change, an international organization that brings the principles of Appreciative Inquiry to a wide range of fields. She earned her doctorate in Organizational Communication from Temple University in 1980.

Corker, Mairian. “Disability Politics, Language Planning and Inclusive Social Policy.” Disability & Society 15, no. 3 (2000): 445–461. doi: 10.1080/713661963.

A paper in which the author reflects upon how to bring people in linguistic minorities ― particularly British Sign Language (BSL) users ― into full citizenship in their societies. Corker persuasively argues that any form of language standardization excludes linguistic minorities from full agency in society, because as long as some languages are considered nonstandard, most people will not speak those languages or allocate resources to those who do. She calls for a change in disability politics in which the speakers of minority languages lay claim not only to have their voices heard, but also to have their words understood.

The late Mairian Corker was a scholar in feminist and disability studies, a linguist, the executive editor of Disability & Society, and a senior research fellow in Deaf and Disability Studies at the University of Central Lancashire. She was the author of Deaf and Disabled or Deafness Disabled?, Counselling: The Deaf Challenge, and Deaf Transitions: Images and Origins of Deaf Families, Deaf Communities and Deaf Identities. She was also the co-editor of Disability Discourse (with Sally French) and Disability/Postmodernity: Embodying Disability Theory (with Tom Shakespeare).

Couser, G. Thomas. “Disability, Life Narrative, and Representation.” In The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, 531-534. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

An article that makes a convincing argument that the writing of disability life narratives is a political act that empowers disabled people to take control over the discourse concerning their community and their lives. The author clearly shows that, in a culture in which disability is both a stigmatizing status and a convenient narrative trope, disabled people have historically been the silent objects of representation, rather than its speaking subjects. By weaving together sources ranging from census data about disability since World War II to autobiography by people with Down Syndrome, Couser illustrates that, by creating their own representations of their bodies and their perspectives, disabled people develop narratives that educate nondisabled people and provide necessary information on how to provide proper support and accommodations. Ultimately, these narratives function as a kind of postcolonialist enterprise, enabling disabled people to get out from under the dominant medicalized images of tragedy and cure, and to speak from inside their own personal and political paradigms.

G. Thomas Couser is a professor of English and a founder of the Disability Studies program at Hofstra, where he specializes in American autobiography and disability life narrative.

Couser, G. Thomas. “Conflicting Paradigms: The Rhetorics of Disability Memoir.” In Embodied Rhetorics: Disability in Language and Culture, edited by James C. Wilson and Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson, 78-91. Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2001.

An excellent piece that discusses the different types of disability narrative and the ways in which they reinforce or challenge social attitudes about disability. The author places disability narratives that reinforce the status quo into the categories of triumph narratives (which celebrate triumph over adversity, and are not representative of the experiences of most disabled people), horror narratives (which portray disability as a condition that elicits revulsion or fear), spiritual compensation narratives (in which the disabled person learns to live life with an “affliction” as a way to carry out a God-given spiritual purpose), and nostalgia narratives (which portray disability as a state of remembering a former self). By contrast, in the category of transgressive narratives, one finds a work like I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes by Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer, which Couser puts in the tradition of the testimonio — a work that describes not just the individual life, but his or her life as representative of the oppression and marginalization of the individual’s group. Among the various types of disability narrative, the testimonio genre holds the most promise for a socio-political representation of disability that moves beyond noncontextualized stories of personal triumph, shame, affliction, and memory.

G. Thomas Couser is a professor of English and a founder of the Disability Studies program at Hofstra, where he specializes in American autobiography and disability life narrative.

Crain, William C. Theories of Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1985.

A book that provides an introduction to a number of diverse theories on human development. Chapter 7, “Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development,” discusses Lawrence Kohlberg’s six-stage framework, which builds upon and extends the work of Piaget. While Kohlberg’s articulation of the different moral outlook of each stage is quite insightful, his insistence on a linear, hierarchical model is worrisome. It creates a framework in which some people will appear to be at a higher level of moral development than others, even though there may be several different — and equally valid — moral trajectories. Moreover, it ignores the fact that stages “lower” in the hierarchy may be superior, in certain contexts, to those at a “higher” level. As Carol Gilligan has pointed out in In a Different Voice, Kohlberg’s model is especially problematic for tracing the moral development of women, who tend to favor moral decision-making based on cooperation and the nurturing of relationships rather than the abstract moral reasoning favored by most men; the former appears at a lower level of the hierarchy than the latter. Finally, Kohlberg’s assertion that his six stages are universal, appearing across all cultures, is a dangerous one to make, because any culture in which moral development proceeds on a different trajectory, and therefore does not rise to all six of Kohlberg’s stages, will appear to be inferior to our own.

William C. Crain is a professor of Psychology at the City College of New York. He also serves as the editor of Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice.

Creswell, John.  Research Design: Quantitative, Qualitative and Blended Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009.

A book that covers three types of research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. Creswell provides a discussion of the philosophical worldviews (postpositivist, social constructivist, advocacy and participatory, and pragmatic) that underlie each method, strategies of inquiry appropriate to each method (such as surveys, experiments, case studies, grounded theory, ethnography, and phenomenological research), and types of data collection and analysis.

John Creswell is a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with expertise in the field of research design, especially with regard to qualitative and mixed methods research. He has written and collaborated on nineteen books about research methodology, and was the founder of the Office of Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Dahl, Marilyn. “The Role of the Media in Promoting Images of Disability – Disability as Metaphor: The Evil Crip.” Canadian Journal of Communication 18, no. 1 (1993): 1-3. http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/viewArticle/718/624.

In this informative piece, the author discusses the ways in which disability is employed as a metaphor for villainy, heroism, and helplessness in cultural representation. Dahl does a brief analysis of how newspaper, comics, television, art, and literature represent disabled people, and sees some improvement in the ways in which disability is “normalized” in television programs. Rather than appearing as plot devices, Dahl notes, disabled people appear as regular characters who have lives and responsibilities similar to those of able-bodied people.

Marilyn Dahl is a social worker with a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of British Columbia. She currently works as a Parent Educator at Information Children at Simon Fraser University.

Davis, Lennard J. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body. London, England: Verso, 1995.

In this fascinating book, the author explores the origins of the concept of normalcy and defines disability as a social process in which human bodies are defined for political, social, and economic ends. Davis does an excellent of job of discussing the way in which the rise of industrialization created the need for a “standard” body that fit into a factory-driven economy and resulted in a redefinition of “citizen” as “able-bodied worker.” His discussions of deafness are especially insightful, particularly his treatment of sign language as a language of the body, and his assertion that sign language is closer to writing than to verbal speech because both sign language and textual communication use nonverbal signifiers. He notes that, until the eighteenth century, deaf people were considered less than human because they did not have oral speech and did not receive speech aurally; in the eighteenth century, with the transition from an oral performance culture to a culture that encouraged reading as a solitary leisure time activity, the deaf became represented as people with a particular gift for literary endeavor.

Lennard J. Davis is a professor of Disability and Human Development, English, and Medical Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He co-founded the Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession for the Modern Language Association. Dr. Davis is the hearing child of two Deaf parents, and grew up speaking ASL and immersed in Deaf culture. When he began participating in CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) in 1990, he became more aware of disability issues and turned his attention away from studying the novel toward an engagement in disability studies.

Davis, Lennard J. Bending over Backwards: Disability, Dismodernism, and Other Difficult Positions. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2002.

In this wide-ranging book, Davis tackles such issues as identity politics, disability studies as an academic field, the construction of disability in the modern era, the ways in which the concept of normalcy underlies the notion of citizenship in the modern state, and the ableism inherent in court decisions regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Of particular interest to me are Davis’ chapters on identity politics and the ADA. In the chapter on identity politics, he coins the term “dismodernism” to describe an approach to civil and human rights that assumes that all people are interdependent, in need of assistance, and physically fragile; in other words, Davis’ politics assume that disability is the norm. His outlook is similar to that of Tobin Siebers who, in his 2011 book Disability Theory, approaches questions of social justice and universal access in much the same way. However, unlike Siebers, Davis suggests that we need to move beyond identity politics because all identities — including racial, gender, and disability identities — are unstable categories. For example, he notes, biracial people make a simple binary of black and white problematic in the same way that transgender and genderqueer people call into question a simple male-female binary. Similarly, the line between able-bodied and disabled is not always clear; one can move from one category to the other — and back — over the course of a lifetime.

In his chapter on the ADA, Davis does a masterful job of showing the ways in which ableism winds its way through several cases brought to court to seek redress of grievances for disabled people. In the court decisions he analyzes, the entire concept of disability rights as civil rights is entirely absent, and the judicial decisions hinge on questions of “generosity” and cost-cutting.

Lennard J. Davis is a professor of Disability and Human Development, English, and Medical Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He co-founded the Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession for the Modern Language Association. Dr. Davis is the hearing child of two Deaf parents, and grew up speaking ASL and immersed in Deaf culture. When he began participating in CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) in 1990, he became more aware of disability issues and turned his attention away from studying the novel toward an engagement in disability studies.

Davis, Lennard J. “Bodies of Difference: Politics, Disability and Representation.” In Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, edited by Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, 100-106. New York, NY: Modern Language Association of America, 2002.

In this brilliant article, the author delineates all the ways in which the ableism of western society is bound up with solving the paradoxes of representative democracy and capitalism. Davis argues that representative democracy requires the construct of the normalcy in order to resolve the paradox of how disparate individuals can collectively be represented by a single elected representative. By establishing that the idea of normalcy is a statistical construct of the “average citizen,” Davis persuasively shows that the results of an election simply represent the center of the bell curve of the views of the voting public, with the result that views in the center become normative and others are marginalized. He goes on to point out that the construction of normalcy as the statistical center of the bell curve is also necessary to resolve the paradox of capitalism, which rests on the idea that all have equal opportunity but that no equal distribution of resources is desirable or possible. The distribution of wealth will always lie on a bell curve from very poor, to middle class, to very wealthy, and this bell curve itself reinforces and naturalizes the idea that there will always be an unequal distribution of resources, with most people being in the “normal” range. Finally, Davis notes that the concept of the “average citizen” is a requirement for creating a sense of national identity in which all are expected to conform to certain national traits, and for creating a compliant workforce under industrialization, in which workers are considered interchangeable parts with equivalently abled bodies.

Lennard J. Davis is a professor of Disability and Human Development, English, and Medical Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He co-founded the Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession for the Modern Language Association. Dr. Davis is the hearing child of two Deaf parents, and grew up speaking ASL and immersed in Deaf culture. When he began participating in CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) in 1990, he became more aware of disability issues and turned his attention away from studying the novel toward an engagement in disability studies.

Davis, Lennard J. “Constructing Normalcy.” In The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, 3-19. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

An excellent piece in which the author makes a convincing case that the concept of normalcy entered into the imagination of English speakers in the period between 1840 and 1860. As a condition that human beings can and must attain, normalcy replaced the earlier concept of the ideal, which was understood to be outside the capacity of any person to meet.

The author shows that the idea of the norm arose from the field of statistics, beginning with the French statistician Adolphe Quetelet, who calculated a statistical average of human qualities that became the image of a non-existent “average man.” From there, British and American society increasingly began to accept the idea that “average” was synonymous with “normal,” and that anyone outside the center of the bell curve was deviant and undesirable. Later in the 19th century, in keeping with the aim of the eugenics movement to create human beings in whom all deviation from the norm would be erased, Sir Francis Galton converted the bell curve into quartiles, ranking each section of the curve from lowest to highest. His work ultimately led to the creation of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test by Binet and Simon, along with other standardized tests for measuring academic and intellectual performance. Once the ideal of normalcy was in place, disabled people became thrown in with members of all other groups with “abnormal” traits, such as criminals and the poor, and ranked on a scale in which they were believed to impede human progress and the moral and physical health of the nation.

Lennard J. Davis is a professor of Disability and Human Development, English, and Medical Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He co-founded the Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession for the Modern Language Association. Dr. Davis is the hearing child of two Deaf parents, and grew up speaking ASL and immersed in Deaf culture. When he began participating in CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) in 1990, he became more aware of disability issues and turned his attention away from studying the novel toward an engagement in disability studies.

Dawson, Michelle, Isabelle Soulieres, and Morton Ann Gernsbacher. “The Level and Nature of Autistic Intelligence.” Psychological Science 18, no. 8 (2007): 657-662. http://psych.wisc.edu/lang/pdf/Dawson_AutisticIntelligence_PS_2007.pdf.

A study that tests whether autistic children score higher on the Raven’s Progressive Matrices IQ test than on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Third Edition (WISC-III), and whether autistic adults score higher on the Raven’s Progressive Matrices than on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Third Edition (WAIS-III).

The Wechsler scales consist of 12 subtests. Five of them test verbal IQ and consist of the test subject listening to verbal questions and giving verbal answers. Another five subtests assess nonverbal IQ by posing verbal questions and asking for such nonverbal responses as putting cards or blocks into a pattern. Thus, both sets of subtests require competence in verbal language: the verbal IQ subtests require both receptive and expressive verbal language, while the nonverbal IQ subtests require receptive verbal language. Studies have shown that, when tested using the Wechsler scales, 25% to 64% of autistic people fall into the intellectually disabled category.

Because autistic people have varying degrees of difficulty with verbal language, the researchers believed that a test that does not rely on verbal skills might yield different results. The Raven’s is a nonverbal test considered the gold standard for testing high-level, fluid intelligence. The test consists of sixty questions, each of which consists of a geometric pattern that the test subject must complete by choosing among six to eight alternatives. No questions are presented verbally, nor are verbal responses expected. The researchers administered the Raven’s and the WISC-III to 38 autistic children between the ages of 7 and 16; they also administered the Raven’s and the WAIS-III to 13 autistic adults between the ages of 16 and 43. Each group had a matched control group.

The results were startling. On the WISC-III, not a single autistic child landed in the “high intelligence” range, but on the Raven’s, one-third scored in the 90th percentile or higher; in addition, on the WISC-III, very few autistic children scored in the “average intelligence” range, but on the Raven’s, the majority scored in the 50th percentile or higher. Moreover, on the WISC-III, one-third of the autistic children landed in the intellectually disabled category, while on the Raven’s, only 5% did so. The adult scores showed a similar pattern, with scores an average of 30% higher on the Raven’s than on the WAIS-III.

Michelle Dawson is an autistic researcher at the Specialized Clinic on Autism at Riviere-des-Prairies Hospital in Montreal. Isabelle Soulieres holds a PhD in Neuropsychology from the University of Montreal and is a research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Morton Ann Gernsbacher holds a doctorate in Human Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently a Vilas Research Professor and the Sir Frederic C. Bartlett Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her work has centered on the cognitive processes that inform language, and she is considered an expert in the field of autism research.

Delgado, Richard and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2012.

In this excellent introduction to critical race theory (CRT), Delgado and Stefancic cover such basic CRT themes as interest convergence (when the interests of the majority coincide with those of the minority), material determinism (in which bigoted cultural representations justify the exploitation of a minority group), revisionist history (in which critical race theorists reinterpret American history from the perspective of minority experience), structural determinism (which involves the limits to change embedded in the laws, ideas, and paradigms of a society), and the problematic nature of liberalism (particularly with reference to the concept of rights and the issue of color-blindness in legal proceedings). In addition to defining these themes, the authors discuss such issues as intersectionality (when people belong to several different marginalized groups), essentialism (which addresses the question of whether all minority people share the same interests), separatism versus assimilation, the problematic nature of the black-white binary (in which any oppressed group must show its similarity to the social position of African-Americans in order to get a redress of grievances), and critical white studies (which examines the social construct of whiteness and its privileges). In this very useful book, the authors explain CRT in a way that is both engaging and accessible to the reader unfamiliar with the discipline.

Richard Delgado is a professor at the Seattle University School of Law and one of the pioneers of critical race theory. Before teaching at Seattle University, he was the Charles Inglis Thompson Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School and a University Distinguished Professor of Law and Derrick Bell Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. Jean Stefancic is also a professor at the Seattle University School of Law, where she writes about legal reform and social justice issues.

Disability and Representation. “The Problem with Person-First Language: What’s Wrong with This Picture?” http://www.disabilityandrepresentation.com/2012/05/30/the-problem-with-person-first-language-whats-wrong-with-this-picture/. May 30, 2012. Accessed May 30, 2012.

An article in which I analyze a graphic that contains an imperative to person-first language and find that it betrays connotations of disability as shameful and dehumanizing.

DuBois, Ellen Carol. “Three Decades of Women’s History.” Women’s Studies 35 (2006): 47–64. doi: 10.1080/00497870500443722.

An article that clearly articulates the paradigm shifts that have taken place in the three decades since the inception of women’s studies programs. DuBois charts the course of women’s studies from its early focus on the Victorian “cult of true womanhood,” to the inclusion of African-American scholars and African-American perspectives, the rise of the field of gender studies, the work of creating a multi-racial and multi-ethnic paradigm, and the current trend toward transnationalism.

Ellen Carol DuBois is a professor of history at UCLA with expertise in the history of the women’s suffrage movement and American feminism. She was one of the original scholars in the field of women’s studies, having received her PhD from Northwestern University in 1975.

England, Christina. “Brainwashed Police Prosecute Parents to Protect Vaccines.” VacTruth.com, November 8, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012. http://vactruth.com/2012/11/08/brainwashed-police-ignore-vaccine-injuries/.

An article about a retired police sergeant in Queensland who claims that police officers have been brainwashed to interpret vaccine injury as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Shaken Baby Syndrome, and child abuse, with the result that parents have been falsely accused of manslaughter when their children die and show signs of bruising and other injuries. He accuses the police department of engaging in a full-scale cover-up in order to protect vaccine makers, alleging that SIDS is a false diagnosis and that what looks like Shaken Baby Syndrome is simply the result of parents giving an already unresponsive child a “gentle shake.” Not only do I find this line of thinking preposterous, but I can think of few things more horrifying than writing off child abuse as vaccine injury and defending abusive parents.

Christina England holds a Higher National Diploma in Journalism and Media and is working toward a BA degree in English literature. She has contributed articles against vaccines to the anti-vaccination site Vactruth.com, the American Chronicle, the Weekly Blitz, and Namaste Publishing UK.

Facebook. “Great Mothers (and Others) Questioning Vaccines.” http://www.facebook.com/GMAOQV. Accessed December 2, 2012.

The Great Mothers page is an anti-vaccination Facebook page. It provides links to articles, videos, radio programs, and webinars, along with a number of graphics and direct quotes, about what the page owners consider the dangers of vaccines.The page provides a great deal of information on the anti-vaccination perspective and is a relatively active page with over 2500 Likes.

Falcon, Mike. 2002. “Stars ‘CAN-do’ about defeating autism.” USA Today, April 10, 2002. Accessed December 29, 2011. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/spotlight/2002/04/10-autism.htm.

An article containing the infamous statement by autism professional Bryna Siegal that autistic children aren’t fully human. Mike Falcon is a journalist who formerly wrote a column called Spotlight Health for USA Today.

Fantoni, Beatrice. “Woman claims flu shot paralyzed her, forced her out of work.” Canada.com, November 9, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012. http://o.canada.com/2012/11/09/woman-claims-flu-shot-paralyzed-her-forced-her-out-of-work/.

An article about a 59-year-old Ontario woman who became disabled as a result of transverse myelitis. She blames her condition on a flu vaccine she received two weeks before symptoms appeared. She became temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, and though her paralysis has partially eased, she is no longer able to work because her legs and back remain weak, she becomes easily fatigued, she has lost the sensation of temperature in her feet, and she has become incontinent. The article is a very good example of a patient who becomes paralyzed from an illness and looks for the cause in a vaccine, even when science shows no direct link.

Beatrice Fantoni is a reporter with the Windsor Star, where she covers health policy.

Fine, Michelle and Adrienne Asch. “Disability Beyond Stigma: Social Interaction, Discrimination, and Activism.” Journal of Social Issues 44, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 3-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1988.tb02045.x.

In this groundbreaking piece, the authors employ the perspective of Lewinian minority-group analysis to explore common cultural assumptions about disability. Fine and Asch do an excellent job of enumerating the assumptions about disability that emerge from the social-psychological literature and that find a home in mainstream conceptions of disability: that disability is located solely in the body; that when a disabled person has difficulties, the impairment is always causing them; that the disabled person is a victim; that any victimization derives from the physical impairment, rather than from social barriers, architectural barriers, discrimination, and stigma; that disability represents the entirety of a person’s identity; and that disability puts one in a position of helplessness. In a particularly powerful section, the authors decry the ways in which people believe that a person with a disability who has a need for support in one area has a need for support in all areas; that a need for support will disrupt reciprocity in friendships and intimate relationships; and that disabled people always receive assistance, but never provide it.

Michelle Fine is a professor in the Social/Personality Psychology Program at the City University of New York, and taught for 12 years at the University of Pennsylvania. She specializes in issues of community development for children and young adults in urban areas. Adrienne Asch holds a PhD in Social Psychology from Columbia. In addition to being the Director of the Center for Ethics at Yeshiva University, she is a professor of Epidemiology and Population Health and a professor of Family and Social Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Her work focuses on issues of law and ethics regarding human reproduction and The Human Genome Project.

Foreman, Phil. “Language and Disability.” Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability 30, no.1 (March 2005): 57–59. doi: 10.1080/13668250500033003.

In this article, the author reflects on the changes in disability language that have taken place over the course of the 30-year history of the Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability. Foreman highlights three major areas of change. First, many technical terms used to describe disability have been modified, as evidenced by the replacement of the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” (in Australia and the US) and with “learning disabilities” (in the UK). Second, the journal has seen the adoption of person-first language, and the replacement of such terms as “Down Syndrome child” with “child with Down Syndrome.” Third, the editors of the journal have worked hard to keep out language that portrays disabled people as perpetual sufferers or victims, and to replace such representations with more neutral or positive language, as in the replacement of a phrase such as “a person suffering from cerebral palsy” with “a person with cerebral palsy.” The author notes that the underlying reasons for these changes are a desire for greater accuracy and a motivation to create a more positive portrayal of people with disabilities.

Phil Foreman is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Education and Arts at the University of Newcastle. He is the former director of the University of Newcastle Special Education Centre and is a member of the Centre for Special Education and Disability Studies at the University of Newcastle. He has written extensively on the subject of intellectual disability.

FoxNews.com. “Malaria vaccine disappoints in trial in African babies.” http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/11/09/malaria-vaccine-disappoints-in-trial-in-african-babies/. November 9, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

A Reuters article that describes the results of a large clinical trial of a malaria vaccine in Africa. The clinical trial took place in seven countries and involved over 15,000 children; the results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The efficacy rate for the vaccine was only 30%, well under the efficacy rates of 50% and 65% in two previous clinical trials. Bill Gates, who helped fund the project, noted the difficulty of creating a vaccine against a parasite. The maker of the vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline, is not intending to make a profit from their work on the vaccine, because it will only be used in countries with a high rate of poverty.

Fred Bloem, MD — Holistic Physician in Maryland. “The Life of Ian Larsen Gromowski.” http://www.drbloem.com/video/ian-larsen-gromowski-hepatitis-b-vaccine.htm. September 28, 2009. Accessed December 2, 2012.

A webinar that uses text, photographs, and voiceovers to tell the story of the life of Ian Gromowski, a boy who died at the age of 47 days. His parents believe that his death was caused by a reaction to the Hepatitis B vaccine. His mother, Deanna Gromowski, who now works as an anti-vaccine advocate, tells his story while the video shows photographs of Ian throughout his short life and text about the circumstances of his illness and death. The webinar was hosted by Mayer Eisenstein, a doctor and attorney with a master’s degree in Public Health, and Nick Haas, the president of the Medical Voices Vaccine Information Center.

Frith, Uta. “Emanuel Miller lecture: Confusions and controversies about Asperger syndrome.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 45, no. 4 (May 2004): 672-686. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00262.x.

An article in which the author portrays people with Asperger’s Syndrome as selfish, egocentric, and unempathetic, and assigns blame for problems in social relationships entirely on them. Frith dismisses the point of view of people with Asperger’s who see themselves as having a different experience of the world and a unique perspective on life, rather than being diseased or disordered, by asserting that they lack insight and therefore cannot be trusted to define their own needs, desires, experiences, and expectations of others. It’s a perfect formula for disempowering hundreds of thousands of autistic people, and it very neatly closes off the potential for measuring the external validity of autism research.

In response to the many insightful, empathic, and self-reflective personal narratives written by autistic people, Frith moves into misinterpretations so extreme that they beggar belief. For example, she says that because adult writers with Asperger’s Syndrome look back on their childhoods and understand things that weren’t clear before, that in itself is evidence that they lacked Theory of Mind (ToM), self-knowledge, and understanding of others as children. Of course, the questions that jump immediately to mind are the following: What self-reflective adult doesn’t look back on childhood and understand things that were opaque before? And what small child understands things the same way as an adult? When non-autistic people look back, reinterpret, and reweave the stories of their lives in narrative form, they’re lauded for being mature, creative, and insightful. But when autistic people look back, reinterpret, and reweave the stories of their lives in narrative form, they’re told that this act is, in and of itself, evidence that they lacked ToM in childhood. The extent of the confirmation bias is simply staggering.

Uta Frith is a professor of Psychology at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London.

Gabel, Susan and Susan Peters. “Presage of a paradigm shift? Beyond the social model of disability toward resistance theories of disability.” Disability & Society 19, no. 6 (October 2004): 585-600. doi: 10.1080/0968759042000252515.

A very interesting piece in which the authors offer a critique of the social model of disability while reflecting upon the possibility for a new framework called “resistance theory.”

Following the work of Shakespeare and Watson, Gabel and Peters critique the social model on the following grounds: 1) The social model is based on the false dichotomies of impairment/disability, objective/subjective, and individual/collective, and it does not explore the territory between the poles of its binaries; 2) while the social model has been informed by critical theory, it has not sufficiently incorporated its insights and moved away from its binary terms; 3) the social model does not take into consideration the way in which counter-resistance from the mainstream medical model shapes both disability consciousness and disability theory; 4) the social model leaves out individual agency, experience, reflection, and resistance in its analysis of disability; 5) the social model leaves out the importance of individual experience in shaping disability identity; and 6) the social model does not welcome resistance to its premises from inside the disability community, where such resistance could have a profoundly positive impact on bringing more people into the disability rights movement.

In order to expand the social model, the authors introduce the idea of “resistance theory” — which seems to be less of a theory and more a mode of action and engagement that can take many forms. It can inform the different paradigms for understanding disability — paradigms that the authors define as “functionalist” (the medical model), “postmodern” (the deconstructionist/linguistic model), “historical-materialist” (the strong social model), and “interpretivist” (which foregrounds individual experiences of disability). The postmodern model incorporates new literary and artistic forms in order to resist the mainstream medical model, and the interpretivist model incorporates personal voices in order to resist the collective voice of the social model. Moreover, resistance can take place by bringing together people from different oppressed minorities who challenge one another’s perspectives and resist overgeneralization about the experience of marginalization. The strength of resistance theory is that it is flexible enough to fit different cultural and political contexts without becoming rigidly ideological.

Susan Gabel is a professor of education and the director of the Disability and Equity in Education PhD program at National-Louis University, where she specializes in disability studies and special education. She is the author of the book Disability Studies in Education. Susan Peters is an associate professor in the College of Education at Michigan State University in East Lansing, where she specializes in disability studies. She is the editor of Education and Disability in Cross-Cultural Perspective and the co-author of Disability and Special Needs Education in an African Context.

Gaia Health. “New Failed Vax Study Proves Vaccine Antibody Theory is False.” http://gaia-health.com/gaia-blog/2012-11-03/new-failed-vax-study-proves-vaccine-antibody-theory-is-false/. November 3, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

A rather absurd article that draws the erroneous conclusion, based on the failure of a Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus(MRSA) vaccine trial, that antibodies do not provide immunity. The article cites a study in which 3,958 patients received the vaccine and 3,967 received a placebo. The rate of those who died was nearly equal between the two groups — 5.08% of the vaccinated group and 4.46% of the placebo group. Scientists were surprised that, although it triggered an increase in antibodies, the vaccine was not effective. The writer cites the lack of efficacy in the face of an immune response as proof that the antibody theory is simply wrong, and that the only immunity one can receive against disease is “natural” immunity that comes of actually contracting the disease. (The author does not speak to the fact that one can only have natural immunity against a potentially fatal illness if one actually survives it.) The writer goes on to cite the common anti-vaccination objections that vaccines allegedly contain toxins, that these toxins create autoimmune disorders (despite a plethora of scientific evidence to the contrary), and that over half of American children are chronically sick (and will never be well) because of vaccines. Ultimately, the writer refers to vaccination as an act of “madness.”

The Gaia Health website contains articles about natural remedies, the environment, and the evils of modern medicine (including vaccines).

Gaia Health. “Whooping Cough Epidemic Caused by Virulent New Pertussis Strain—And It’s the Result of Vaccine.” http://gaia-health.com/gaia-blog/2012-10-31/whooping-cough-epidemic-caused-by-virulent-new-pertussis-strain-and-its-the-result-of-vaccine/. October 31, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

In this article, the writer alleges that the pertussis vaccine has caused the current epidemic of whooping cough, and that this strain of pertussis is ten times more virulent than the “natural” strain. Moreover, the writer believes that the CDC and the NIH have engaged in a conspiracy to cover up this information and to encourage more people to be vaccinated in order to increase the profits of the pharmaceutical companies.

The Gaia Health website contains articles about natural remedies, the environment, and the evils of modern medicine (including vaccines).

Gaipa, Mark. “Breaking into the Conversation: How Students Can Acquire Authority for Their Writing.” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 4, no. 3 (2004): 419-437. doi: 10.1215/15314200-4-3-419.

An entertaining and very useful essay that discusses scholarship as conversation and offers strategies for helping new scholars create their own spaces in the critical discourse. The author does an excellent job of breaking down the process of learning about the criticism in one’s field, evaluating the positions of each critic and how they relate to the positions of other critics, and understanding how to navigate the conversation. I thought that the metaphor of “scholarship as conversation” was a good starting place, because clearly, there is a complex give-and-take going on amongst critics.

But I don’t think that Gaipa went far enough in describing the power imbalances of the conversation for those in the margins and what those imbalances mean for the different strategies one might use. My field, Disability Studies, is a relatively new field with a guiding principle of widening the circle so that people on the margins are brought in and integrated into the whole. Because my field both resides on the margins and focuses on people who are on the margins, some important questions arise about where I might stand in the critical conversation. If I attempt to move in from the margins, leaving others behind, am I giving power to the paradigm that says that there are people who will always be marginalized? Does it make more sense to speak from the margins and try to move people to embrace marginalized perspectives? Would a more inclusive paradigm be one in which people navigate around the circle, from the center to the margins and back, in order to gain a broader perspective? How might one help make that happen? All of these questions will have an impact on where I situate myself in the conversation.

Mark Gaipa is the Manager of the Modernist Journals Project at Brown University and holds a PhD from Brown University in modern literature. He teaches college students how to become a part of the scholarly discourse using the methods outlined in his paper.

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Introduction: From Wonder to Error — A Genealogy of Freak Discourse in Modernity.” In Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body, edited by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, 1-19. New York, NY: New York University Press, 1996.

In this introduction to her anthology about the history of the freak show, the author discusses the ways in which people with atypical bodies came to be part of the freak show genre during the period between 1840 and 1940. She argues that, at the beginning of this period, people with atypical bodies were considered wondrous spectacles, and that the freak show era came to an end as the medicalization of disability took precedence in American culture and disabled people became seen as pitiful errors of nature to be hidden away. She also notes that the freak shows served an important purpose during the tumultuous beginnings of American modernization and industrialization: when viewing a freak show, an ordinary person could be reassured of his or her own basic “normalcy” and of having an acceptably standardized body that would be fit to serve the new machine-driven industrial culture.

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is an associate professor of English at Howard University and has written the book Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature.

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1996.

A groundbreaking work in which the author argues for a) the inclusion of disability studies in the humanities as a minority discourse, along with race, gender, and class, and b) an analysis of disability, in critical theory and postmodernism, as a socially constructed category.

Garland-Thomson begins by making the essential point that disability, like race, class, and gender, serves to define the edges of what is “normal,” with the result that being white, middle class, male, and able-bodied become uncritiqued expressions of wholeness; people of color, people in poverty, women, and disabled people become defined as deficient, eccentric, partial, and hypervisible. The author then creates a working theory of disability by bringing together feminist criticism (particularly the ways in which disability is feminized and womanhood becomes a form of disability); Erving Goffman’s work on stigma; Mary Douglas’ concept of “dirt” and the ways in which western culture handles anomaly (by assigning it to rigid categories, my eliminating it, by avoiding its manifestations, by projecting danger onto it, and by making it meaningful); and Michel Foucault’s analysis of the way in which modern society values conformity and punishes particularity. Using these interwoven theories, Garland-Thomson illuminates the ways in which American culture defines itself against disability by glorifying the virtues of “self-reliance, autonomy, progress, and work” (16) in contrast to dependency, lack of control, illness, and lack of economic access. She then goes on to explore a) the phenomenon of the “freak show” as an exercise in assuring people of their normalcy; b) nineteenth-century sentimental novels that pose disabled figures as part of an agenda of social reform; and c) twentieth-century novels by women of color that pose disabled characters as empowering and liberating figures of difference.

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is an associate professor of English at Howard University, where she specializes in feminist theory and disability studies.

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Staring Back: Self-Representations of Disabled Performance Artists.” American Quarterly 52, no. 2 (Jun., 2000): 334-338. http://www.jstor.org/pss/30041845.

A very insightful piece that explores the ways in which visibly disabled performance artists use the stares of non-disabled people as an opportunity for creating an empowered identity through visual and verbal narrative. After discussing the performance art of disabled people in general terms, Thomson analyzes the performance art of Mary Duffy, an armless woman who uses her art to reclaim her own self-definition. Duffy does so, Thomson convincingly argues, by using the “stare-and-tell” ritual enacted in the larger society — a ritual in which the disabled body almost inevitably engenders the “What happened to you?” question. Thomson bases her analysis largely on Erving Goffman’s Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity and on the film Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back.

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is an associate professor of English at Howard University and has written the book Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature.

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “The Politics of Staring: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography.” In Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, edited by Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, 56-75. New York, NY: Modern Language Association of America, 2002.

In this excellent article, the author discusses the ways in which photography permits able-bodied people to stare at disabled bodies in a way that would not be socially acceptable person-to-person. Garland-Thomson argues that staring creates, reflects, and reinforces difference and aberration, and that photographers who work with disabled subjects employ the rhetoric of the stare in order to manipulate the viewer for social, political, and commercial purposes. The result is that the public views disabled people through four different lenses: 1) the “wondrous,” in which disabled people are considered superhuman heroes overcoming adversity, 2) the “sentimental,” in which disabled people are considered pitiful victims who provide an opportunity for able-bodied people to exercise noble humanitarian sentiments, 3) the “exotic,” in which disabled people are considered strange and sensational, and 4) the “realistic,” in which disabled people are considered similar to able-bodied people, with all distinguishing marks of disability minimized or erased.

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is an associate professor of English at Howard University and has written the book Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature.

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory.” Feminist Formations 14, no. 3 (Fall 2002): 1-32. http://mtw160-150.ippl.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/nwsa_journal/v014/14.3garland-thomson.pdf.

A thought-provoking article that discusses the ways in which feminist theory and disability theory inform one another and illuminate the intersection of various systems of oppression, particularly those based on gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and disability. Garland-Thomson articulates the ways in which cultural representations of disabled bodies and women’s bodies bear striking similarities, and she shows that images of disability are often used to describe women’s bodies as inferior and defective. She then discusses the link between cosmetic surgery for women and reconstructive surgery for disabled people, both of which are based on a cultural imperative to make one’s body conform to an arbitrary norm. Finally, she reflects upon the ways in which disability interrupts the cultural narrative of a fixed identity based on a fixed physical form.

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is an associate professor of English at Howard University and has written the book Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature.

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Disability and Representation.” PMLA 120, no. 2 (March 2005): 522-527. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25486178.

In this article, the author discusses the ways in which our society has begun to “reimagine” disability by moving from representations in which disability connotes suffering and misfortune to ones in which it brings forth images of civil rights and inclusion. Garland-Thomson provides three major examples of this change. First, she recalls listening to a National Public Radio program in which the man formerly known in freak shows as “Blind Tom” was spoken of as an “American composer” and discussed respectfully by his proper name, Thomas Greene Wiggins. Second, she notes that scholars have uncovered evidence that both the impressionist Claude Monet and the photographer Chuck Close became significantly disabled in their later years, and that both men used their disabilities to their advantage: Monet adjusted to his near-blindness by moving from representational to impressionist painting, and Close adjusted to his nearly paralyzed hands by moving from photographic realism to cubism. Finally, Garland-Thomson contrasts advertisements of disabled people as objects of charity in the 1940s with recent stylish portrayals of disabled people in the New York Times Magazine. The author feels that portrayals of disability and disabled people are becoming more mainstream. I would agree, although I am not sure that I share her optimism that becoming mainstream necessarily signifies progress.

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is an associate professor of English at Howard University and has written the book Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature.

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Beholding.” In The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, 199-208. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

In this intriguing essay, the author makes a case for staring at difference that moves beyond voyeurism into a form of empathic identification with the other. Garland-Thomson writes that in a staring encounter between a nondisabled and a disabled person, the person being stared at can manipulate the encounter in order to move from an object of revulsion and alarm into a person who looks back and asserts his or her own individuality. She uses as an example the February 16, 2003 New York Times Magazine cover article about the late Harriet McBryde Johnson, a severely disabled attorney and disability rights activist, and shows the ways in which, in the article, Johnson invites the audience to look at her in new ways: as a person of “rare beauty” who is comfortable in her own skin. Ultimately, Garland-Thomson believes, the staring encounter can startle us out of our accustomed ways of thinking and perceiving and lead us into a social justice perspective of how the world itself can be remade.

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is an associate professor of English at Howard University and has written the book Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature.

Gernsbacher, Morton Ann and Jennifer L. Frymiare. “Does the autistic brain lack core modules?” Journal of Developmental and Learning Disorders 9 (2005): 3-16. http://psych.wisc.edu/lang/pdf/gernsbacher_autistic_modules.pdf.

An excellent paper that debunks the notion that Theory of Mind (ToM) deficits are core to autism, and that autistic people have a deficit in the ability to process facial expressions. Gernsbacher and Frymiare briefly describe the history of the ToM theory and show that in order for the theory to be valid, three conditions must be met: ToM deficits must be universal in the autistic population, ToM abilities must be innate, and ToM must be reliant upon a particular area of the brain. The authors then show that ToM difficulties are neither unique to autism nor universal among autistic people, that ToM abilities are dependent upon language abilities, and that scientists have not been able to pinpoint a single area of the brain associated with ToM. In addition, Gernsbacher and Frymiare point out that autistic people exhibit less activation of the fusiform gyrus (the “face processing” area of the brain) not because that part of the brain is broken in autistics, but simply because autistic people don’t attend to faces or make eye contact to the same extent as non-autistic people.

Morton Ann Gernsbacher holds a doctorate in Human Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently a Vilas Research Professor and the Sir Frederic C. Bartlett Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her work has centered on the cognitive processes that inform language, and she is considered an expert in the field of autism research. Jennifer L. Frymiare is a doctoral student in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she has served as a graduate research assistant at the University of Wisconsin Research on Autism since 2004.

Gernsbacher, Morton Ann. “Toward a behavior of reciprocity.” Journal of Developmental Processes 1 (2006): 139-152. http://psych.wisc.edu/lang/pdf/gernsbacher_reciprocity.pdf.

A brilliant paper that argues that a) many autism professionals and parents have forgotten that emotional and social reciprocity depends upon a mutually respectful relationship, and b) it is unfair to locate a lack of reciprocity in autistic people when others treat them without empathy. After briefly critiquing questions on the Social Reciprocity Scale (used to measure reciprocity in autistic people) and noting a lack of empathy apparent in the research on autistic behavior, Gernsbacher cites several studies showing that when others act with greater emotional and social reciprocity toward them, autistic people tend to be more socially and emotionally engaged. Specifically, she discusses studies showing that when professionals and parents imitate autistic children, those children show an increase in a wide range of social behaviors: they look at their mothers more often and for longer periods of time, they play more creatively with their toys, they express more happiness, they engage in more social reciprocity with others, they vocalize more, they smile and play more, they sit closer to other people and touch them, they become more interested in what others are doing, they are more cooperative, and they are able to engage in joint attention. Gernsbacher’s piece makes an obvious but often overlooked point: if autistic people experience only criticism, lack of interest from others, and attempts at normalization, how can anyone expect them to easily initiate relationships, to reach out and trust others, or to engage in reciprocity?

Morton Ann Gernsbacher holds a doctorate in Human Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently a Vilas Research Professor and the Sir Frederic C. Bartlett Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her work has centered on the cognitive processes that inform language, and she is considered an expert in the field of autism research.

Gernsbacher, Morton Ann. “On Not Being Human.” Association for Psychological Science 20, no. 2 (February 2007): 5-32. http://psych.wisc.edu/lang/pdf/Gernsbacher_Humanity.pdf

A piece in which Gernsbacher brings her fellow researchers to task for their appalling comparisons of autistic children to robots, apes, and chimpanzees. The author not only brings moral outrage to her critique, but also proves false the premise on which her colleagues’ words are based ― that autistic people cannot discern the beliefs and intentions of others, an ability that, for these researchers, renders one fully human. She adduces numerous studies showing that many non-autistic people also have difficulties discerning the mental states of others, and that these difficulties are not universal among autistic people. Moreover, in response to her colleagues who admit that autistic people can discern intentions but nonetheless assert that this skill is not enough to make them fully human, Gernsbacher shows the ways in which researchers change their definitions to save their theories. By providing hard evidence, she exposes the ways in which the dehumanization of autistic people has much in common with the bigotry endured by other minority groups.

Morton Ann Gernsbacher holds a doctorate in Human Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently a Vilas Research Professor and the Sir Frederic C. Bartlett Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her work has centered on the cognitive processes that inform language, and she is considered an expert in the field of autism research.

Gleeson, Brendan. Geographies of Disability. New York, NY: Routledge, 1998.

A book that investigates the impact of geographical and architectural spaces on the lives of disabled people. The author carries out a critique of different forms of disability theory, including work based on idealism — the belief that a) disability is a purely intellectual and psychological construct ungrounded in material circumstances, and b) disability stigma arises, as expressed by Goffman, simply from interactions between people, rather than by virtue of its exclusionary political and social purposes in the larger culture.

Brendan Gleeson is a Professor of Urban Policy at Griffith University and the director of the Urban Research Program.

Glenn, David and Karen Fischer. “The Canon of College Majors Persists Amid Calls for Change.” Chronicle of Higher Education 56, no. 2 (September 4, 2009): A1-A8. http://chronicle.com/article/Amid-Calls-for-Change-College/48206/.

An article that discusses the argument between those who want to retain the current structure of specialized academic disciplines and those who want to replace it with interdisplinary majors and fields of study based on solving particular problems. Glenn and Fischer quote Mark C. Taylor, a professor of religion at Columbia University, and Robert M. Zemsky, a professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania, who both argue for an interdisplinary approach focused on finding a solution to the world’s most pressing economic, social, and scientific problems. In support of retaining traditional academic disciplines, the article quotes Newton H. Copp, a professor of biology at the Claremont Colleges, and James C. Garland, former president of Miami University in Ohio, who argue that the specialized knowledge offered by traditional academic disciplines is fundamental to acquiring the necessary depth of expertise. The article concludes that, while the field of interdisciplinary studies is gaining a foothold, most funding still goes to the traditional disciplines, with the result that most students seeking work in academia still gravitate to those disciplines.

David Glenn is a Senior Writer and Karen Fischer is a Senior Reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Goffman, Erving. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1963.

In this groundbreaking book, Goffman examines the social position of people who have been stigmatized, how they negotiate their social identities (including attempting to pass as “normal”), and how they feel in response to stigma. The author does an excellent job of discussing how stigma operates in social interaction, but does not address the issues of the origins of stigma or its social and political uses. In addition, while he notes that, in general, stigma does not adhere to the discredited attribute but is a social construct projected onto it, he seems to believe that disability stigma does reflect essential aspects of disability, and that disabled people create social groups that are, by definition, less worthwhile than those of able-bodied people. These positions, however, do not detract from the sensitivity he shows to the experience of being stigmatized and to the ways that marginalized people work with stigma.

Erving Goffman was a professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley and at the University of Pennsylvania.

Goggin, Gerard and Christopher Newell. “Crippling Paralympics? Media, Disability, and Olympism.” Media International Australia 97 (November 2000): 71-83.

In this article, the authors posit that the separation of the Paralympics from the Olympics is an indication of the segregation of disabled people in society. In support of this contention, they employ a critical disability studies (CDS) perspective and do an analysis of news coverage of the 2000 Olympics held in Sydney, Australia. They conclude that people with disabilities rarely appeared in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, that news reporting rarely mentioned the ones that did, and that the Paralympics received far less press coverage than the Olympics. Goggin and Newell make a very good argument that people with physical disabilities are all but banished from Olympic coverage because the purpose of media representation is to enforce strictures about the kinds of bodies that are most acceptable to a society.

Gerard Goggin is a lecturer inMedia Studies in the School of Humanities at Southern Cross University. Christopher Newell is a senior lecturer in Medical Ethics and Disability Studies in the School of Medicine at the University of Tasmania.

Hale, Courtney Melinda and Helen Tager-Flusberg. “The Influence of Language on Theory of Mind: A Training Study.” Developmental Science 6, no. 3 (June 2003): 346-359. doi: 10.1111/1467-7687.00289.

A thought-provoking paper that addresses the question of whether increased understanding of the semantic and syntactic components of sentential complements results in increased Theory of Mind (ToM) abilities in typically developing pre-school children. In a sentential complement, a proposition is subordinated to a main verb. Two classes of verbs introduce sentential complements: verbs that express an act of communication (as in, “Bob said that Rachel was in the library”) and verbs that express the internal mental states of others (as in, “Bob thought that Rachel was in the library”). While the main verb is generally true (i.e., Bob really did think that Rachel was in the library), the subordinate clause might be true or false (i.e., Rachel might or might not be in the library.) Thus, the complement provides a way for a person to think about the difference between a person’s belief and what is actually happening, which is exactly the capacity being tested on false-belief tests. In other words, having a grasp of sentential complements gives one the tools with which to be able to think about the contents of other people’s minds.

Because it has been well-established that typically developing children acquire ToM abilities at about the age of four, the researchers selected 60 children between the ages of 36 and 58 months who had not yet acquired the ability to pass false-belief tests. The children were randomly assigned to one of three groups for two training sessions, a week apart, in the following areas: false belief (FB), sentential complement (SC), and relative clause (RC). A pretest was administered to all the children before the first training began, and a post-test was administered after the second training ended. The pretest consisted of a location-change false-belief test, a sentential complement test, and a relative clause test. The post-test consisted of a location-change false-belief test, an unexpected-contents false belief test, and an appearance-reality test, along with a sentential complement and relative clause test. The most interesting finding was that children who were trained in sentential complements saw the same increase in their ability to pass the false-belief test as those who were trained on the false-belief tests themselves. The reverse, however, was not true: training on false-belief tests did not increase the children’s understanding of sentential complements.

Courtney Melinda Hale holds a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has worked at Boston Children’s Hospital as a pediatric psychologist and is now in private practice specializing in evaluations of developmental disorders, psychiatric illnesses, and other atypical presentations in children and adults. Helen Tager-Flusberg holds a doctorate in Psychology from Harvard and is a professor of Psychology at Boston University, where she specializes in research on autism, specific language impairment (SLI), and Williams Syndrome.

Haller, Beth A. and Robin Larsen. “Public Reception of Real Disability: The Case of Freaks.” Journal of Popular Film & Television 29, no. 4 (2002): 164-172.

An excellent article that discusses the popular reaction to the 1932 movie Freaks and analyzes the ways in which that reaction points to changing social attitudes about disability in the larger culture. Before that time, disabled people had been looked upon as exotic creatures in sideshow attractions; the negative reaction to the movie reflected a cultural transition into viewing disabled people with physical and moral revulsion as representatives of medical problems that threatened the new moral order in which science would drive human progress. As such, they began to be viewed as pitiable monstrosities who should be consigned to institutions and removed from the public view. The audience’s fear and outrage at the sight of disabled characters violently wreaking revenge on “normal” people also grew out of a culture in which current eugenics theories equated physical disability with moral depravity.

Beth A. Haller is a professor of Journalism and New Media in the department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies at Towson University. She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Media and Communication from the Temple University School of Communication and Theater. She has done research on disability and the media since 1990 and runs a blog called Media dis&dat at http://media-dis-n-dat.blogspot.com/. Her book Representing disability in an ableist world: Essays on mass media was published in 2010. Robin Larsen is a professor of Communication Studies at Cal State–San Bernardino, where her research interests include visual communication and the history of film.

Haller, Beth A. Representing Disability in an Ableist World. Louisville, KY: The Advocado Press, 2010.

In this excellent book, the author brings together research that she has carried out over the past 20 years regarding disability representation in popular media, and she does so in a manner accessible to a wide audience. Haller uses quantitative and qualitative content analysis to explore such subjects as alternative disability media and the ways in which the Internet empowers disabled people to create and disseminate their own representations; the ways in which language about disability has changed in the news; how the news media covers the issue of assisted suicide; how mainstream reporting represents autism; the ways in which the Jerry Lewis Telethon used pity as a fundraising tactic; and improvements to the representation of disabled people on television programs.

Beth A. Haller is a professor of Journalism and New Media in the department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies at Towson University. She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Media and Communication from the Temple University School of Communication and Theater. She has done research on disability and the media since 1990 and runs a blog called Media dis&dat at http://media-dis-n-dat.blogspot.com/.

Haller, Beth, Sue Ralph, and Zosia Zaks. “How the US news media report disability.” In Confronting Obstacles to Inclusion, edited by Richard Rose, 9-30. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

An article in which the authors report on the results of a qualitative content analysis of media coverage of autism in The New York Times, Time magazine, Newsweek magazine, and Education Week for the period 2006-2008. Their goal is to discern the media representations of autism that influence teachers of children. They begin by describing the concept of “news frames” as a set of organizing principles employed by people in the media to create their storylines — principles that go unremarked and uncritiqued by most observers, with the result that the outlook underlying the storyline is considered “normal” and “obvious.” The authors then describe the news frames underlying the autism coverage in their study, and conclude that the following narrative themes emerge: 1) people with autism are broken; 2) autism is a disease that should be cured; 3) autism is synonymous with conflict and tragedy; 4) autism coverage stigmatizes and misrepresents autistic people; 5) autism causes strange behaviors; and 6) people with autism can function in the world at large. The authors conclude that, with some notable exceptions, autistic people rarely speak for themselves in media coverage, resulting in media representations based on ableism and the medical model.

Beth A. Haller is a professor of Journalism and New Media in the department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies at Towson University. She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Media and Communication from the Temple University School of Communication and Theater. She has done research on disability and the media since 1990 and runs a blog called Media dis&dat at http://media-dis-n-dat.blogspot.com/. Sue Ralph is a visiting professor at the University of Nottingham, where she specializes in the history of eugenics and images of disability in advertising; she is also the editor of the Journal of Research in Special Education Needs. Zosia Zaks is the mother of two disabled children who works as a disability adjustment counselor and is a member of the Maryland Autism Commission.

Hardin, Brent, Marie Hardin, Susan Lynn, and Kristi Walsdorf. “Missing in Action? Images of Disability in Sports Illustrated for Kids.” Disability Studies Quarterly 21, no. 2 (Spring 2001). http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/277/303.

In this article, the authors use quantitative content analysis to examine photographic representations of disabled children in 36 issues of Sports Illustrated for Kids (SIK) for the period from July, 1996 through June, 1999. The researchers asked three sets of questions: 1) Does SIK include photographs of children with disabilities? 2) What percentage of the photographs includes children with disabilities, and do these photographs encourage the viewer to see disabled children as part of mainstream society? 3) Are the children portrayed realistically or according to disability stereotypes?

The authors found that photographs of children with disabilities rarely appeared in SIK. In fact, children with disabilities did not appear in any advertising content, appeared in editorial content only .40% of the time, and appeared in overall content only .30% of the time. In addition, when photographs of disabled children did appear, all but two of them showed the children alone or with other disabled people, and 84% of the disabled children participated in individual sports rather than team sports, giving the impression that disabled children are alone and apart. Given both the paucity of disability representation, and the fact that disabled children are represented as segregated from others, the authors express concern that the photographs in SIK will give nondisabled children a distorted sense of the lives of their disabled peers.

Brent Hardin is an associate professor of Adapted Sport and the director of the Alabama Disability Sports Program at the University of Alabama. Marie Hardin is a professor in the College of Communication at Penn State, and the associate director for research at the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. Susan Lynn is an associate professor of Physical Education at Florida State University. Kristi Walsdorf is an assistant professor of Physical Education at Georgia Gwinnett College.

Haslam, Rick. “Dehumanization: An Integrative Review.” Personality and Social Psychology Review 10, no. 3 (2006): 252-264. http://www2.uni-jena.de/svw/igc/Literature/TS%20KesslerMummendey/Nick%20Haslam%20on%20dehumanization.pdf.

A literature review in which the author summaries different theories of dehumanization and then provides his own framework in which to understand two definitions of “humanness” and their two related forms of dehumanization. Haslam makes a distinction between a definition of humanness based on our uniqueness as a species and one based on what is consdered to be “human nature” as an essential quality, whether or not other species share it. He does an excellent job of discussing the underpinnings of each view of humanity, and he carefully articulates the many types of dehumanization that can result, arguing that dehumanization takes place not simply in crisis-driven situations of intergroup conflict, but in everyday intergroup and interpersonal relationships. He also makes a very useful distinction between the ways in which dehumanization is expressed, distinguishing between animalistic (subhuman) and mechanistic (nonhuman) renderings of people in targeted groups.

Throughout my reading of Haslam’s analysis, I found myself thinking how applicable it is to representations of autistic people in research and popular culture. Imagine my dismay, then, when at the end of his article, Haslam speaks about autistic people in many of the same dehumanizing ways that he has been discussing through the paper. The irony is astonishing, and it reflects the danger of defining the humanity of other people as anything other than “having been born to two human parents.” I am thinking that it might be a good idea for me to start my master’s thesis with a chapter on dehumanization, using Haslam’s ideas as part of my framework for critiquing the research. And when I’m done, perhaps I’ll send him a copy!

Nick Haslam is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Melbourne.

Hawkins, Joan. “‘One of Us’: Tod Browning’s Freaks.” In Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body, edited by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, 265-276. New York, NY: New York University Press, 1996.

In this excellent article about the film Freaks, the author argues that the film undoes its own progressive approach to difference by devolving into the horror genre late in the action. For the first two-thirds of the film, Hawkins notes, disabled people are seen in their apparent “normalcy” — hanging laundry, courting, getting married, and having children. But after the betrayal of Hans by Cleo, the freak show performers take their revenge on Cleo by mutilating her, calling up all of the latent fears of the audience about the association between disability and evil. In addition, Hawkins believes, the figure of Cleo becomes an archetype of a sexually aggressive, ambitious, and unconventional woman; ironically, she is literally cut down to size by the very people who live furthest outside the confines of conventional culture.

Joan Hawkins is an associate professor in the department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University, where she specializes in the history of film media.

Hehir, Thomas. “Eliminating Ableism in Education.” Harvard Educational Review 72, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 1-32. http://digilib.bc.edu/reserves/ed435/abba/ed43551.pdf.

In this excellent piece, the author discusses ableism in education with reference to three groups: deaf students, blind students, and students with learning disabilities. Hehir begins by defining ableism as a system by which people with non-normative bodies are devalued, with resulting discrimination that manifests economically, socially, psychologically, and educationally. He then examines the ways in which ableism plays a negative role in the education of disabled students.

For deaf students, Hehir notes that an emphasis on oralism (speaking and lip-reading) over the use of ASL results in poor educational outcomes; he adduces studies proving that deaf children of ASL-using deaf parents fare much better in the classroom than the speaking and lip-reading deaf children of hearing parents. For blind students, Hehir sees an imperative toward getting children who are not completely blind to read print, and toward getting completely blind children to use recorded books, when Braille would give both sets of students far greater access to the curriculum. For students with learning disabilities, Hehir notes an emphasis on learning to read and write at grade level before being allowed to access grade-level curriculum in other ways; this emphasis, he asserts, results in students being held back from learning about a wide range of subjects. For all disabled students, Hehir concludes, demanding that they be as able-bodied as possible — rather than encouraging them to use alternative tools better suited to how their bodies work — results in poor educational outcomes.

Thomas Hehir is a Silvana and Christopher Pascucci Professor of Practice in Learning Differences in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. From 1993 to 1999, he was the director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, a position in which he helped to implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Heinze, Markus. VACCeptable Injuries: Increasing Childhood Diseases and Developmental Disorders. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

A book in which the author alleges that neurotoxins in vaccines cause a host of illnesses and developmental disorders, including ADHD, autism, cancer, allergies, and asthma. The author believes that the Hepatitis B vaccine that his daughter received shortly after her birth caused her Type 1 diabetes, diagnosed when she was three years old. He expresses anger over his daughter’s disability and holds vaccines responsible.

Markus Heinze holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s degree in education — degrees that he believes qualify him to understand and analyze advanced scientific studies in the fields of epidemiology, immunology, and public health.

Hevey, David. “From Self-love to the Picket Line: strategies for change in disability representation.” Disability, Handicap & Society 8, no. 4 (1993): 423-429. doi: 10.1080/02674649366780391.

While this piece was written nearly 20 years ago, it is still very timely in its analysis of the problems of conventional disability representation and how to create counter-representations. Hevey begins by noting that disabled people have largely been excluded from the process of disability representation and that most representations of disability perpetuate disability oppression. He makes the excellent point that simply attempting to replace “negative” representations with “positive” ones is immensely problematic, because it begs the question of exactly what part of disability are we to feel “positive” about. Are we to feel positive about our physical conditions? Are we to feel positive about discrimination against disabled people? Are we to feel positive about the political struggle to end disability oppression? These are important questions that are often ignored in the disability community. Moreover, moving beyond the poles of “positive” and “negative,” the author believes, will help us focus on the process of change, rather than on static categories.

For much of his paper, Hevey explores what he calls “the tragedy principle” in conventional renderings of disability, and he outlines the ways in which this principle is put into play, particularly in literary works: 1) disability is synonymous with impairment; 2) impairment is synonymous with being of no social worth; 3) impairment and lack of social worth are synonymous with individual deviance; and 4) the disabled person is inevitably bound for destruction, and often takes others along on a destructive course. Able-bodied people have a difficult time letting go of representations based on the tragedy principle, Hevey says, because these representations rationalize the exclusion of disabled people from the world of work and material consumption, and because they allow able-bodied people to project their worst fears about disability, illness, pain, and death onto the disabled character for the purpose of catharsis. To counter these kinds of representations, Hevey believes, disabled people need to create counter-representations that break the link between impairment and lack of social worth; that move from a representation of the disability as an individual problem to disability as a socially constructed problem; and that show disabled people in the process of working against oppression.

David Hevey is a disability studies scholar, writer, and photographer with a special interest in how disability is represented in charity advertising. He is the author of The Creatures Time Forgot: Photography and Disability Imagery.

Hevey, David. “The Enfreakment of Photography.” In The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, 507-521. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

In this excellent piece, the author discusses the photographic “enfreakment” of disabled people as marginalized, isolated, strange, and frightening. For his analysis, he chose four books at random: The Family of Man, diane arbus, Gary Winogrand’s Figments from the Real World, and Jean Mohr’s Another Way of Telling. In The Family of Man, a disabled person appears only once, and he symbolizes both tragedy and courage in a world moving toward progress and wholeness. In diane arbus, dwarves, a giant, and people with intellectual disabilities symbolize the fragmentation and disorder of the society at large and within the photographer herself. In Figments from the Real World, disabled people represent instability, disharmony, and horror. Finally, in Another Way of Telling, a blind girl represents an almost otherworldly simplicity and innocence. As Hevey points out, disabled people in each of these works represent meaning in the photographer’s narrative, but do not create meaning themselves, nor are their own concerns represented. They are symbols – of bravery, tragedy, fear, loss, disorder, pity, and innocence – and each representation assumes that, by their very nature, disabled people are strange, disturbing, and segregated from others.

David Hevey is a disability studies scholar, writer, and photographer with a special interest in how disability is represented in charity advertising. He is the author of The Creatures Time Forgot: Photography and Disability Imagery.

Hodkinson, Alan. “Inclusive education and the cultural representation of disability and disabled people: recipe for disaster or catalyst for change?” Research in Education 77 (May 2007): 56-76.

This paper describes the results of a study that sought to measure the attitudes of nondisabled elementary school children toward their disabled peers. Because the British government is committed to inclusion for disabled students, and because peer attitudes would likely have an impact on the success of inclusion programs, the author decided to investigate the attitudes that nondisabled students have about disability. The study took place at two primary schools in a city in the northwest part of England; for the purposes of the study, they are denoted as School A and School B. The students in School A had more exposure to disabled children than the students in School B. A total of 53 students participated in the study.

The method for data collection was referred to as a “multidimensional attitude measure” and consisted of four parts:

    1. The researcher asked each student to draw a picture of a child with a disability and to write about the child’s impairment. This part of the process was intended to help the researcher understand how the children think about disability. The results showed that most of the children described disability in terms of the medical model — that is, that disabled people have a deficit of some kind, are unable to do certain activities, and cannot do things as well as nondisabled people.

    2. After looking at a picture of a child in a wheelchair and a nondisabled child, the students had to select five words to describe their attitude toward each child in the picture. Like the drawing in Part 1, this exercise was intended to provide the researcher with information about how the children think about disability. The results showed that the students considered children with disabilities to be less intelligent, less physically attractive, less interesting, less brave, and less affluent than their non-disabled peers.

    3. The researcher showed the student a picture of four children — one with a visual disability, one who used a walker, one who used a wheelchair, and one who was nondisabled — and asked each student whether he or she would want to befriend any of the children in the drawing. The purpose of this part of the process was to see whether children have a concept of a hierarchy of disability. The results showed that the children would rather make friends with a nondisabled peer than with a disabled one, and that they have a preference for befriending a child who uses a wheechair over a child who uses a walker or has a visual disability.

    4. The researcher asked each student whether he or she thought that children who use wheelchairs should be members of his or class, whether he or she had ever interacted with a child who was a wheelchair user, and whether he or she understood the meanings of the terms “disabled” and “inclusion.” The purpose of these questions was to determine the prior experience that the students had had with disabled peers and how well they understood disability concepts. The results showed that a majority of the students welcomed the inclusion of children who use wheelchairs but, interestingly enough, did not have a clear sense of the meaning of the word “inclusion.”

When the researcher compared the data from the two schools, he found very few differences in the results, leading him to conclude that exposure to disabled children does not necessarily foster positive attitudes toward them or a desire to form peer relationships with them. He suggests that, in order for inclusive education to be a success, more exploration into how nondisabled children think about their nondisabled peers is necessary.

Alan Hodkinson is a professor in the Centre for Cultural and Disability Studies at Liverpool Hope University. He specializes in inclusive education and representations of disability in educational textbooks and digital media.

Holley, Karrie A. “The Disciplines, Interdisciplinarity, and the University.” ASHE Higher Education Report 35, no.2 (2009): 31-42. doi: 10.1002/aehe.3502.

In an informative chapter in the special issue Understanding Interdisciplinary Challenges and Opportunities in Higher Education, Holley provides a good overview of the nineteenth-century origins of specialized academic disciplines, which emerged in response to the inception of graduate study in the United States, the increasing necessity for knowledge that would meet new economic and social demands in the industrial era, and the need for workers with specific skills. She also describes the rise of broad, general liberal arts undergraduate curricula and departments organized around interdisciplinary studies (such as women’s studies and American studies) as responses to what many critics perceived as a trend toward overspecialization and fragmentation of knowledge.

Karri A. Holley is an assistant professor in the field of higher education at the University of Alabama. Her academic interests lie in the fields of interdisciplinary studies and qualitative research.

Jack, Jordynn. “’The Extreme Male Brain’? Incrementum and the Rhetorical Gendering of Autism.” Disability Studies Quarterly 31, no. 3 (2011). http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/1672/1599.

An excellent critique of Simon Baron-Cohen’s Extreme Male Brain and Empathizing-Systemizing (E-S) theories of autism. Jack notes that both of these theories make use of an incrementum, or scale, in which two hierarchies are constructed and superimposed — male and female, and systemizing and empathizing. On Baron-Cohen’s incrementum, females are weak systemizers, males are good systemizers, and autistic people are extreme systemizers. By making autism an extreme version of a male brain, Jack argues, Baron-Cohen’s theories pathologize both masculinity and autism. And, by making use of a conventional gender binary that most people still accept without question, Baron-Cohen deflects attention away from other theories of autism, from the voices and experiences of females with autism, and from the needs of autistic people.

As Jack notes, the questions on the self-report tests that Baron-Cohen uses to measure empathizing and systemizing (the Autism Quotient, the Systemizing Quotient, and the Empathy Quotient) all depend on gendered stereotypes about male and female activities. For instance, the SQ asks about such conventionally male systemizing activities as fixing cars and electrical systems, while it leaves out conventionally female systemizing activities, such as sewing clothing and knitting. Moreover, it poses empathizing questions in such conventionally female terms as whether one enjoys clothes shopping with friends, while leaving out conventionally male social activities, such as going to football games. A revised version of the SQ corrected for some of these problems, and the gender disparity in the results decreased appreciably. However, many of the systemizing questions have to do with technologies, such as computer programming, to which mostly white, middle-class males gravitate, while ignoring systemizing activities engaged in by both genders in other cultures and classes. Therefore, the results of Baron-Cohen’s tests are skewed by biased assumptions about gender, race, class, and culture.

Jordynn Jack is an associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she specializes in rhetoric and rhetorical theory. She is currently at work on a book called Gender and the Rhetoric of Autism.

Johnson, Harriet McBryde. “Unspeakable Conversations.” In The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, 573-585. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

A powerful piece in which the late author, a brilliant, severely disabled lawyer and activist, discusses her interactions with Peter Singer, a bioethicist at Princeton who argues that parents of severely disabled infants should have the option of having them euthanized. Johnson talks about the absurdity and pain of discussing in a public forum whether her life should have been terminated as soon as she was born, and describes the cognitive dissonance of hearing Singer make horrendous arguments in a kind and rational tone. Much of what she said echoed my own feelings about debating the autism and empathy issue with researchers who say very dehumanizing things, in a tone of gentle reasonableness, about autistic people.

Harriet McBryde Johnson was a disability rights lawyer and activist who worked passionately against legalized infanticide and assisted suicide. She was the author of Too Late to Die Young and Accidents of Nature.

Johnson, Scott. “Ten reasons you should think twice before getting a flu vaccine.” Examiner.com, August 29, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012. http://www.examiner.com/article/ten-reasons-you-should-think-twice-before-getting-a-flu-vaccine.

An article in which the author alleges the following specious reasons for avoiding the flu vaccine: 1) the vaccine is ineffective; 2) it’s better to boost the immune system by taking vitamin D, using essential oils, and taking homeopathic remedies; 3) the vaccine contains thimerosal; 4) the vaccine has flu-like side effects; 5) the vaccine can cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS); 6) the vaccine can cause vascular inflammation; 7) the vaccine can cause narcolepsy; 8) the vaccine contains Polysorbate 80; 9) the vaccine contains formaldehyde; and 10) there may be a link between the vaccine and Alzheimer’s disease. He does not seem to realize that the risk of dying from the flu is greater than any of the unproven links he adduces.

Scott Johnson is a doctor of naturopathy and the author of Nutrition: A Word of Wisdom.

Johnson, Shannon A., Jillian H. Filliter, and Robin R. Murphy. “Discrepancies Between Self- and Parent-Perceptions of Autistic Traits and Empathy in High Functioning Children and Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 39, no. 12 (December 2009): 1706-1714. doi: 10.1007/s10803-009-0809-1.

A study that uses the Autism Quotient (AQ), Empathy Quotient (EQ), and Systemizing Quotient (SQ) to compare self-reports by 20 autistic young people regarding their autistic traits and experiences of empathy with reports by their parents on the same issues. The result was that the autistic subjects reported fewer autistic traits and more empathy in themselves than their parents observed. The researchers conclude that this finding is due to faulty self-perception among the autistic participants rather than over-reporting by the parents — a prejudicial conclusion if there ever was one.

Shannon A. Johnson is the director of the Clinical and Cognitive Neuropsychology Lab at Dalhousie University. Jillian H. Filliter is a fifth-year graduate student affiliated with the Clinical and Cognitive Neuropsychology Lab. Robin R. Murphy is a clinical psychologist specializing in diagnostic assessments of children and adults on the autism spectrum.

Johnstone, Christopher J. “Disability and Identity: Personal Constructions and Formalized Supports.” Disability Studies Quarterly 24, no. 4 (Fall 2004). http://www.dsq-sds.org/article/view/880/1055.

A basic treatment of the diverse ways in which disabled people construct identity, and of the slow but increasing support for shifting disability identity from a disempowered, stigmatized, and unitary identity toward an empowered, accepted, and multifaceted one. Johnstone cites various models of identity formation in the face of stigma (overcompensation, denial of disability, and the construction of an empowering self-image), describes the movement away from the medical/deviance model of disability toward a model of disabled identity/culture, and briefly summarizes the literature regarding institutional support for disability culture.

Christopher J. Johnstone is the director of international initiatives for the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. He has a doctorate from the University of Minnesota in educational policy and administration, along with master’s and bachelor’s degrees in special education.

Kang, Jong-Gu. “A Teacher’s Deconstruction Of Disability: A Discourse Analysis.” Disability Studies Quarterly 29, no.1 (Winter 2009). http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/173/173.

An article that presents the results of a study in which the author interviewed a special education teacher who supports the social model of disability. Kang uses critical discourse analysis (CDA) to a) analyze the power relationships between the teacher and her colleagues, and b) investigate the ways in which the teacher uses language that falls within the medical model even as she resists its influence. The author concludes that words, knowledge, and power are intertwined, and that by finding new language with which to describe disabled students as capable and respected, teachers can increase the possibilities for their taking control over their own lives.

Jong-Gu Kang holds a doctorate in education and wrote her dissertation on South Korean teachers’ views about learning-disabled students in elementary school.

Knickmeyer, Rebecca, Simon Baron-Cohen, Peter Raggatt, Kevin Taylor, and Gerald Hackett. “Fetal testosterone and empathy.” Hormones and Behavior 49, no. 3 (2006): 282-292. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2005.08.010.

A study that measures whether fetal testosterone is inversely associated with empathy. The researchers analyzed the levels of fetal testosterone in 38 typically developing children who had reached the age of four, and showed the children cartoons with two moving triangles. The result was that more girls than boys used terms reflective of relationships, emotion, intention, and mental states to describe the triangles, and that higher levels of fetal testosterone were correlated with a lower frequency of intentional thinking and emotion-laden propositions. The researchers conclude that the result shows a correlation between fetal testosterone and social development, although they admit that they are unable to prove causation and that differences in response could derive from socialization rather than biology. Because a previous study (Abell, et al 2000) had shown that autistic children score more poorly than typically developing children on the same task, the researchers conclude that their findings support the extreme-male-brain theory of autism.

One of the most troubling aspects of this study is the subjective nature of the ways in which the researchers view the cartoons; for example, they see the motions of two of the triangles as a mother coaxing her child to go outside, and they expect that their view will be shared by all of the participants. When the participants don’t see the shapes in the same way, the authors conclude that the participants are lacking in pro-social behavior. I can’t see any evidence that a failure to anthropomorphize inanimate objects indicates a problem with empathy or social relationships. An alternative explanation would be a bias toward seeing things as they really are, which is in no way opposed to empathic response.

The authors of this study are past and present researchers in the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

Knoll, James A. “Through a glass, darkly: The photographic image of people with a disability.” PhD diss., Syracuse University, 1987.

In this dissertation, the author analyzes representations of people with disabilities by major photographers for the period from 1960 until the mid-1980s. Knoll views his material through the lens of the social model of disability. He traces the history of disability representation in photography for the period under investigation, the influences on the photographers, the methods the photographers used, the relationships and roles in which disabled people are shown, and how symbols are deployed. He outlines seven themes that weave themselves through the entire body of work: 1) the “other”; 2) “alienation and isolation”; 3) “sinister”; 4) “helplessness”; 5) “individual salvation”; 6) disability as a window into “another world of consciousness”; and 7) the social causes of disability. I am especially interested in Knoll’s taxonomy of “content categories” and “interpretive categories”; although some of them apply only to visual work, many of them will be very useful to me in analyzing textual work as well. Knoll goes into great detail about how to analyze content, asking questions under the heading of “content categories” about such issues as whether the disabled person is represented as a beggar, a veteran, a child, or a fool. Under the heading of “interpretive categories,” he explores such issues as whether the disabled person is represented as pitiable, helpless, alienated, doomed, victimized, subhuman, or whole, and whether the disabled person is adapting to disability and/or being cared for.

James A. Knoll holds a PhD in Special Education from Syracuse University and is a professor of education at Morehead State University.

Lamp, Sharon and W. Carol Gleigh. “A Heritage of Ableist Rhetoric in American Feminism from the Eugenics Period.” In Feminist Disability Studies, edited by Kim Q. Hall, 175-189. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2011.

An excellent article in which the authors analyze how early feminism used the claims of eugenics to bolster the movement for women’s rights. Lamp and Gleigh focus on the work of the author Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the activist Margaret Sanger in order to trace the way that both women deployed eugenic principles in their attempts to put women on an equal footing with men.

Both Gilman and Sanger made women the standard bearers for the improvement of the human race, arguing that through consciously choosing motherhood, they would not have “defective” offspring and would contribute to the progress of humanity. Gilman, on the one hand, supported what Lamp and Gleigh call “positive eugenics;” she argued that women should have the power to choose mates who were not genetically “inferior.” Sanger, on the other hand, supported what the authors refer to as “negative eugenics;” she argued that high rates of reproduction resulted in high rates of disability and “defect,” and that the poor and otherwise “defective” classes should use birth control in order to prevent disabled children. Sadly, as Sanger moved from the working class to the upper class in her own life, her reasons for distributing birth control to the poor changed. She began by wanting to give poor women control over their fertility as a way of helping them move out of poverty, but over time, she saw birth control as a means of keeping poor women from contributing to what she considered the downfall of humanity. Believing that being poor and having a large family caused poverty, crime, disease, war, “feeble-mindedness,” and congenital disabilities, Sanger concluded that by limiting the fertility of poor women, she would solve a large number of social ills.

Sharon Lamp is a disability rights activist pursuing her PhD in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where her interests include disability culture and bioethics. W. Carol Cleigh is a disability rights activist who serves on the board of Not Dead Yet, a disability rights organization that works against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Lanctot, Ghislaine. The Medical Mafia. Self-published, 2002. http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/archivos_pdf/medical_mafia.pdf.

In this book, the author engages in a mixture of paranoia about the medical profession and magical thinking about the causes of illness. On the one hand, Lanctot alleges that the medical establishment and governmental entities have silenced researchers, poisoned the food supply, modified our genetic structure, drugged the populace, conspired to implant microchips in our brains, and plotted ways to clone our bodies, all with the aim of making us sick and keeping us that way. On the other hand, she alleges that physical sickness is a condition of the soul — that if the soul is sick, the body will be sick as well. For Lanctot, being sick is simply a sign of a spiritual, mental, or emotional problem; she even goes so far as to say that sadness causes cancer! To describe the “sick soul,” she uses a number of adjectives that describe human fragility and disability — “crawling,” “cowers,” “stoops,” “broken,” “twisted,” “soft,” and “fragile.” To describe the “healthy soul,” she uses a number of able-bodied metaphors — “stands tall,” “stands up,” “straight,” “firm,” and “solid as a rock.” Ultimately, she says, the “natural order” is for the soul to be in charge of the body. In describing what happens when the body is in charge, she uses all the same words that our culture conjures to talk about disability — “disorder, sickness, war, misery, death” — and sees sickness as a threat not just to the individual, but also to the social and environmental order. Oddly enough, she also describes sickness, aging, and death as illusions born of the limitations of one’s thought processes.

Ghislaine Lanctot is a former physician whose medical license was revoked after she wrote about vaccines as a public health hazard and governmental conspiracy.

Lerner, Gerda. “Placing Women in History: Definitions and Challenges.” Feminist Studies 3, no. 1/2 (Autumn 1975): 5-14. http://www.myunion.edu/Library-Login.aspx?url=http://www.jstor.org/stable/3518951.

Written by one of the pioneers in the field of women’s studies, this article presents an excellent summary of the early history of the field and articulates the need for questioning the assumptions of traditional historical analysis. The author describes the way that, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the field of women’s studies followed a traditional paradigm, in which male-defined values for what constituted important historical events held sway, and in which feminist historians were largely concerned with the lives of white, affluent women. Ironically, when feminist scholars attempted to turn away from this model by charting the history of female oppression under patriarchy, they only tightened the hold of the male-centered paradigm. As Lerner rightly points out, by concentrating on the impact of women’s oppression and how women fought against the injustices of their lives, the first wave of feminist scholarship painted women either as passive victims of patriarchy, or as people defined only in opposition to patriarchal norms and values, rather than “on their own terms.”

Creating an arena in which women can be defined “on their own terms” has been the watchword of the field of gender studies ever since, and Lerner deserves a great deal of credit for pointing out the necessity for a new paradigm. She herself began the shift toward that new paradigm by asserting that defining women “on their own terms” had to include making central the perspectives of women who were neither white nor affluent. The result of bringing in these perspectives was the first major paradigm shift in women’s studies. This shift moved historical analysis away from depicting women’s experiences from an outside male perspective toward asking questions about how women viewed their own experiences.

Gerda Lerner is a professor emerita of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. For nearly five decades, she has been one of the most influential contributors to women’s studies as a discipline, having first taught a women’s history course at the New School for Social Research in 1963. She has helped to develop the women’s studies curricula at Long Island University, at Sarah Lawrence College, and at Columbia University.

Light, Richard. “A Real Horror Story: the abuse of disabled people’s human rights.” Disability World 18 (April-May 2003). http://www.disabilityworld.org/04-05_03/violence/horrorstory.shtml.

In this piece, the author describes the outcome of his research regarding international human rights abuses against disabled people. According to the author, in 1999, the now-defunct organization Disability Awareness in Action (DAA) began developing the Human Rights Database, a database containing information about human rights violations and disability; by 2003, the database contained information about human rights abuses against over two million people. Information came from the following sources: disability organizations; official documents; news, television, and other press reports; individuals; the Global Rights Campaign (an effort that resulted in disabled people testifying about the abuses they had experienced); and research studies.

Light shows that human rights violations derived from the following: a) bureaucratic omission or ineptitude (such as when death resulted from benefits being withdrawn or needed electricity being turned off; b) acts of terror (as in the case of 700 people being murdered in a psychiatric hospital in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide); c) a refusal to provide medical care, or the provision of poor medical care; d) violent crime; e) police brutality; f) “mercy” killings; g) stigma (such as when a person commits suicide after being rejected for a job on the basis of disability); and h) superstition (including violence during attempted exorcisms). The author concludes by noting that the intersection of disability and poverty leaves millions of disabled people without basic protections.

Richard Light is an attorney, a disability rights activist, and the former Research and Publications Director of Disability Awareness in Action.

Link, Bruce G., Elmer L. Struening, Sheree Nesse-Todd, Sara Asmussen, and Jo C. Phelan. “Stigma as a Barrier to Recovery: The Consequences of Stigma for the Self-Esteem of People With Mental Illnesses.” Psychiatric Services 52, no. 12 (December 2001): 1621-1626. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.52.12.1621.

In this study, the authors show that the stigma of mental illness has a profoundly negative impact on the self-esteem of people with severe mental disabilities. The researchers gave assessments to 70 people at a program for the mentally ill at six-month and two-year intervals. These assessments measured self-esteem and the impact of two areas of stigma: “devaluation-discrimination” (whether the person believes that people will discriminate against people with mental illness) and “stigma-withdrawal” (whether the person feels that withdrawing from social contact is an effective way of avoiding discrimination). The result was that the experience of discrimination as a result of stigma strongly correlates with a loss of self-esteem.

The lead researcher on the study, Bruce G. Link, is the director of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program, the Center for Violence Research and Prevention, and the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program at Columbia University.

Link, Bruce G. and Jo C. Phelan. “Stigma and its public health implications.” Lancet 367 (2006): 528-529. http://www.ahrn.net/Lancet-Stigma_and_its_public_health_implications.pdf.

In this essay, the authors create their own framework for understanding stigma and discrimination. Link and Phelan conceptualize stigma as a process consisting of five steps: 1) Differences among human beings are signified by labels; 2) stigmatized people are stereotyped; 3) stigmatized people become “them,” while nonstigmatized people become “us”; 4) stigmatized people experience reduced social status and discrimination in all areas of life; and 5) nonstigmatized people exercise power over stigmatized people.

In discussing the discrimination that stigmatized people experience, Link and Phelan point to three kinds: 1) “direct discrimination,” such as denying a person a job or housing on the basis of a stigmatized condition; 2) “structural discrimination,” in which the power that adheres to being a member of the nonstigmatized majority gives one greater access to the resources of a society; and 3) an “insidious form of discrimination,” in which stigmatized people, knowing that others regard them in a negative light, lose confidence, respond defensively, and withdraw from social contact entirely. The authors conclude that stigma and discrimination lead to stress and to reduced access to the services offered by society, with the result that stigmatized people suffer poor health outcomes.

Bruce G. Link is the director of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program, the Center for Violence Research and Prevention, and the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program at Columbia University. Jo C. Phelan is a professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University, where her research interests include the phenomenon of social stigma, particularly with regard to mental illness.

Linton, Simi. Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity. New York, NY: New York University Press, 1998.

A groundbreaking book in which the author makes a strong case for disability studies as an interdisciplinary field, discussing its potential to illuminate questions in academia and to spark social and political change. Linton argues passionately against the medicalization of disability, and for the study of disability as a social, cultural, and political phenomenon. She provides a number of useful taxonomies for reading nearly any text about disability. First, she provides a list of terms that have been used to describe disability, and explores the implications of them, concluding that in the mainstream world, disability is associated with passivity and all that flows from it: victimization, dependency, lack of agency, and suffering. Then, based on the 1948 work of Hanks and Hanks, she provides an excellent analysis of six categories in which disabled people are represented in society. These categories are 1) “pariah” (in which disabled people are outcasts denied protection and assistance); 2) “social and economic liability” (in which disabled people are viewed as threats to both social cohesion and the economic solvency of a society); 3) “tolerant utilization” (in which disabled people are employed in jobs that nondisabled people don’t want to do, as in deaf people employed in factories with noisy machinery); 4) “limited participation” (in which disabled people have to keep pace with mainstream standards or be excluded); 5) “laissez-faire” (in which disabled people are cared for by family members, caregivers, and educators, but without a societal commitment to thorough-going social justice or inclusion); and 6) “participation and accommodation” (in which disabled people are fully included in a social context).

Finally, Linton explores twelve problems with the ways in which disabled people are represented in academia – a list that could easily be applied to representation of disabled people in the society at large. These problems can be summarized as follows: 1) the individualization of disability as a personal issue rather than a social one; 2) the representation of disability as a physical bodily problem that needs to be fixed; 3) the absence of the voices of disabled people; 4) the objectification of disabled people; 5) “deterministic explanations” of disability that pose disability as the source of every problem that disabled people encounter; 6) the medicalization of disability; 7) an emphasis on changing disabled people one by one, rather than changing society as a whole; 8) information about disability being restricted to the “applied fields” of education and healthcare; 9) in the curricula of the “applied fields,” a lack of information about the treatment and services that disabled people advocate for; 10) the absence of disability as a problematized issue in the liberal arts; 11) the lack of inclusion of disability in writing, teaching, and events deemed “multicultural” and “diverse”; and 12) the absence of a discussion about how to create full access for disabled people in academia and society.

Simi Linton holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology from New York University. She has served as a professor of psychology at New York University and in the Department of Educational Foundations and Counseling Programs at Hunter College. She has been a disability activist since 1971 and currently travels with a theatrical version of her memoir My Body Politic, published in 2006.

Longmore, Paul K. “Disability Watch.” In Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability by Paul K. Longmore, 19-31. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2003.

This essay was an introduction to the first edition of Disability Watch, a periodical that began publication in 1998 to track the social and economic status of people with disabilities in the United States. Longmore covers some of the difficulties facing people with disabilities 15 years ago: lack of consistent access to public transportation; the segregated use of a less-than-ideal paratransit system; an insufficient number of wheelchair-accessible parking spaces; less than universal access to public buildings and private establishments; a shortage of accessible rental housing; and barriers to accessibility in the public school system. Longmore cites four reasons for this inhospitable environment: 1) a lack of awareness of what the terms “accessibility” and “reasonable accommodations” mean for disabled people, along with an exaggerated sense of the financial costs of inclusion; 2) laws and policies that lead to dependency and segregation in institutional settings; 3) inadequate enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and 4) pervasive bigotry against disabled people. It would be interesting to know how much the situation has improved, if at all, since the publication of Longmore’s piece.

Paul Longmore was a professor of history at San Francisco State University. He wrote The Invention of George Washington and co-edited The New Disability History: American Perspectives.

Longmore, Paul K. “The Life of Randolph Bourne and the Need for a History of Disabled People.” In Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability by Paul K. Longmore, 32-40. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2003.

This article is a review of Bruce Clayton’s Forgotten Prophet: The Life of Randolph Bourne. Randolph Bourne was a disabled intellectual and radical who lived in the early part of the 20th century and wrote about women’s rights, multiculturalism (which Bourne called “transnationalism”), and the way in which the modern nation state depended upon warfare for its perpetuation. Longmore lauds Clayton’s analysis of Bourne’s ideas but faults him for seeing Bourne’s disabilities as simply a medical problem that he overcame with determination and willpower. Because Bourne had a severe facial disfigurement, curvature of the spine, and short stature as the result of spinal tuberculosis, he found himself discriminated against economically and socially, a fact that Longmore believes contributed to his commitment to social justice.

Paul Longmore was a professor of history at San Francisco State University. He wrote The Invention of George Washington and co-edited The New Disability History: American Perspectives.

Longmore, Paul K. “Film Reviews.” In Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability by Paul K. Longmore, 119-130. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2003.

In this essay, Longmore critiques three films in which disability and disabled characters play prominent roles: Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Mask, and My Left Foot. He argues that Whose Life Is It Anyway? does a tremendous disservice to disabled people by posing severe disability as a reason to commit suicide, ignoring the ways in which severely disabled people can have lives worth living. He has far more positive things to say about Mask, a movie about a young man named Rocky Dennis, who has a severe facial deformity. In general, Longmore notes, people with facial deformities are represented as monsters, both morally and physically; in Mask, however, it is clear that Rocky, far from being a monster, is the most likeable person in the film. In fact, the author believes that by showing the fear, hostility, and rejection that Rocky encounters in his life, the film suggests that disability does not inhere in an individual so much as in the world at large. However, Longmore saves most of his enthusiasm for My Left Foot, a film about the artist Christy Brown, who has cerebral palsy. For Longmore, the film stands out because it shows life from the perspective of a disabled person, particularly the reality of growing up disabled and the challenge of fighting patronizing attitudes among able-bodied people.

Paul Longmore was a professor of history at San Francisco State University. He wrote The Invention of George Washington and co-edited The New Disability History: American Perspectives.

Longmore, Paul K. “Screening Stereotypes: Images of Disabled People in Television and Motion Pictures.” In Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability by Paul K. Longmore, 131-146. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2003.

In this article, Longmore discusses four common themes in film depictions of people with disabilities: 1) disability is an indicator of the evil of the character, who takes vengeance on able-bodied people out of his or her purported rage at being disabled 2) disabled people are monsters to be loathed and feared as dangerous and repulsive; 3) severe disability is a reason to wish for death; and 4) the disabled person is isolated because he or she is poorly adjusted psychologically and not because of prejudice and exclusionary practices. After discussing these characterizations in detail, Longmore asserts that disability studies scholars must both analyze the ableist and limiting attitudes in popular depictions of disabled people and make common cause with disability rights activists in overturning those attitudes.

Paul Longmore was a professor of history at San Francisco State University. He wrote The Invention of George Washington and co-edited The New Disability History: American Perspectives.

Longmore, Paul K. “Elizabeth Bouvia, Assisted Suicide, and Social Prejudice.” In Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability by Paul K. Longmore, 149-174. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2003.

In this article, the author looks at the prejudices and societal barriers erected against people with disabilities with reference to the case of Elizabeth Bouvia, a young quadriplegic woman who petitioned the courts to allow her access to assisted suicide, and who was ultimately force-fed when a lower-court decision supporting her petition was overturned. Longmore begins by looking at the ways in which some of the early eugenicists did not make a distinction between euthanizing disabled people against their will and giving them the ability to choose doctor-assisted suicide; he then argues that support for giving disabled people the choice of death as an act of compassion is still very much operative today. He goes on to analyze Elizabeth Bouvia’s case, showing that it was not her quadriplegia that made her life feel unendurable, but pervasive systemic prejudice combined with a series of devastating personal losses that led her into a severe depression for which she received no intervention or services.

Paul Longmore was a professor of history at San Francisco State University. He wrote The Invention of George Washington and co-edited The New Disability History: American Perspectives.

Longmore, Paul K. “The Resistance: The Disability Rights Movement and Assisted Suicide.” In Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability by Paul K. Longmore, 175-203. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2003.

In this article, Longmore covers the arguments of the disability rights movement against doctor-assisted suicide and why it will almost undoubtedly result in the deaths of disabled people who could otherwise be helped with appropriate services. He adduces the following reasons that free and autonomous choice is nearly impossible in a situation of pervasive prejudice against — and lack of support for — disabled people: the healthcare system routinely discriminates against people with disabilities, pressuring some to sign Do Not Resuscitate orders upon entering a hospital; some proponents of doctor-assisted suicide have broadened the term “terminal illness” to include disabled people who use ventilators and other technology to sustain life; some assisted-suicide proponents fail to make a distinction between terminal illness and incurable illness that is not terminal; a lack of appropriate support for work and independent living can make life feel unendurable for disabled people and death seem the only option, particularly in the face of inadequate or nonexistent community-based care, incarceration in institutions and nursing homes, poor medical care and pain management, lack of psychological services, barriers to health insurance, pervasive poverty, and widespread social exclusion; the society often views disabled people as economic, social, and emotional burdens whose deaths would improve the functioning of the body politic; the notion that dignity and disability are mutually exclusive categories can lead to people choosing suicide when appropriate supports would create a greater quality of life; the stigma of dependency in a culture that values individualism and self-sufficiency has the potential to engender self-hatred in people who find themselves disabled; and the intrusion of the health insurance industry in medical decisions means people might be pressured to choose assisted suicide as a cost-effective option to expensive medical treatments.

Paul Longmore was a professor of history at San Francisco State University. He wrote The Invention of George Washington and co-edited The New Disability History: American Perspectives.

Longmore, Paul K. “Princeton and Peter Singer.” In Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability by Paul K. Longmore, 225-229. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2003.

In this article, the author raises the issue of Princeton’s hiring of Peter Singer, an ethicist who has written in favor of euthanizing severely disabled infants. Rather than concentrating on Singer’s ideas, Longmore believes, we should be discussing the fact that disability studies and disability history are not part of the curriculum at most universities, and that disabled faculty members are not hired in any great numbers. Remedying both problems would provide the opportunity for academics to make greater inroads with regard to critiquing the kinds of ideas that Singer espouses.

Paul Longmore was a professor of history at San Francisco State University. He wrote The Invention of George Washington and co-edited The New Disability History: American Perspectives.

Longmore, Paul K. “Why I Burned My Book.” In Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability by Paul K. Longmore, 230-259. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2003.

In this article, the author discusses the “work disincentives” that mean the loss of needed medical care and assistance for independent living when disabled people work and make more than a poverty-level income. As a form of protest, Longmore burned a book he had written whose royalties might have put him over the income limit and resulted in a loss of federal benefits. His protest and activism helped to overturn some portions of the law.

Paul Longmore was a professor of history at San Francisco State University. He wrote The Invention of George Washington and co-edited The New Disability History: American Perspectives.

Lorenz, Laura S. “A way into empathy: A ‘case’ of photo-elicitation in illness research.” Health 15, no. 3 (February 2011): 259-275. doi: 10.1177/1363459310397976.

A paper that seeks to address the lack of empathy with which clinicians and researchers treat people with acquired brain injury. In order to deepen her own experience of empathy, the author provides an opportunity for her research subjects to use photography to express themselves and to widen the conversation about their experiences. In describing her interactions with a man known as “Subject D,” she discusses the ways in which his photography and his reflections upon it both overturn her assumptions about living with disability and cause her to change the nature of her research questions. The aim of her work is to elicit empathy in professionals by empowering patients to shape the conversation regarding how they view their own lives.

Laura S. Lorenz is a Senior Research Associate and Lecturer at Brandeis University. Her research focuses on understanding traumatic brain injury by making subjects participants in the research process, and is an extension of her doctoral work, which explored the necessity of incorporating patient experiences in healthcare policy decisions.

Mairs, Nancy. Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Disabled. Boston, MA: Beacon, 1996.

A brilliant and insightful autobiography in which the author meditates on a number of different subjects: whether she would be the same person without having had multiple sclerosis for most of her adult life; the ways in which her disability has helped her to focus on her writing and to deepen her insight into herself; her lack of self-pity in the face of her physical limitations; the ways in which other people’s pity is masked by admiration at how “brave” she is; the fact that she writes about herself as an embodied being, rather than as a person whose mind is separate from her body; and her fears about the progressive deterioration of her body and the specter of further losses. One of the most moving parts of the book concerns Mairs’ profound desire to serve and the ways in which she uses her writing and listening skills to give deeply of herself. She feels that serving other people is basic to the human soul, and that the soul suffers when one cannot serve.

Nancy Mairs is a feminist, book author, and essayist who writes extensively about religion, spirituality, disability, and issues of concern to women. She has lived with multiple sclerosis for over 40 years and is the author of Plain Text: Essays by Nancy Mairs.

Mairs, Nancy. “On Being a Cripple.” In Plain Text: Essays by Nancy Mairs, 9-20. Tucson, AZ and London, England: University of Arizona Press, 1992.

In this essay, the author talks about both the joys of her life and its difficulties in living with multiple sclerosis. She speaks of the way in which she has consciously chosen the word “cripple” — rather than “disabled” or “handicapped” — to describe herself because she feels that it vividly describes both the state of her body and her toughness as a survivor. She takes a very nuanced view of her disability, neither bemoaning her fate nor celebrating it, but simply being honest about what she hates about her illness and the ways in which it engenders gentleness and appreciation in her.

Nancy Mairs is a feminist, book author, and essayist who writes extensively about religion, spirituality, disability, and issues of concern to women. She has lived with multiple sclerosis for over 40 years, and published her memoir, Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled, in 1996.

Mairs, Nancy. “Sex and Death and the Crippled Body: A Meditation.” In Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, edited by Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, 156-170. New York, NY: Modern Language Association of America, 2002.

A brilliant essay in which the author explores such topics as the ignored sexuality of disabled women, their grief when they are not able to bear children, the lack of attention paid by the medical profession to the emotional and physical needs of disabled women, and suffering as an experience as central to life as joy.

Nancy Mairs is a feminist, book author, and essayist who writes extensively about religion, spirituality, disability, and issues of concern to women. She has lived with multiple sclerosis for over 40 years, and published her memoir, Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled, in 1996.

Major, Brenda and Laurie T. O’Brien. “The Social Psychology of Stigma.” Annual Review of Psychology 56 (2005): 393-421. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.56.091103.070137.

An interesting piece in which the authors develop a new framework for understanding stigma that moves beyond generalizing about stigmatized people as passive targets of discrimination and shows that the perception and the impact of stigma vary within stigmatized groups.

The authors define stigma as the process of labeling, stereotyping, excluding, discriminating against, and disempowering people based on particular, shared attributes. They acknowledge the powerfully negative impact of stigma with respect to four different processes: 1) discrimination, especially in housing, education, employment, health care, and the criminal justice system; 2) “expectancy confirmation,” in which nonstigmatized people create a self-fulfilling prophecy by treating stigmatized people as though they are going to respond in stereotyped ways, thereby eliciting the response they are expecting; 3) “automatic stereotype activation” (including stereotype threat), in which members of stigmatized groups meet the expectations implied by negative stereotypes about them; and 4) identity threat, the fear that one will be treated negatively because of one’s membership in a stigmatized group and that the threat will exceed one’s ability to cope.

The authors posit that stigmatized individuals vary in the ways in which they view stigma on the basis of three different variables: their awareness of “collective representations” of their group (how the majority culture views the group); how they respond to “situational cues” (implicit and overt acts of discrimination); and the nature of their “personal characteristics,” which includes the degree to which they are conscious of the stigma that adheres to the group, the degree to which they identify with the group, how important a role the stigmatized attribute plays in their sense of themselves, whether they believe the world to be fair and just, and whether they are, by nature, optimistic or pessimistic. When coping with identity threat, Major and O’Brien argue, stigmatized people engage a number of strategies. These strategies include assigning the origin of the stigma to society at large rather than to the self, choosing to disengage from discriminatory situations, working even harder to prove the stereotypes wrong, and finding solace in either increasing or decreasing one’s identification with the group. The authors conclude that stigma causes a number of threats to personal health, academic achievement, and self-esteem.

Brenda Major is a professor of psychology in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she specializes in issues of stigma, coping, and self-esteem. Laurie T. O’Brien is a professor of psychology at Tulane University, where she specializes in the subjects of prejudice and stigma.

Markram, Henry, Tania Rinaldi, and Kamila Markram. “The Intense World Syndrome – an Alternative Hypothesis for Autism.” Frontiers in Neuroscience 1, no. 1 (2007): 77-96. doi: 10.3389/neuro.01.1.1.006.2007.

A groundbreaking study that presents a new unifying theory of autism called the Intense World Syndrome theory. Using the “valproic acid (VPA) rat model of autism,” the researchers conclude that the brains of autistic people are hyper-reactive and hyper-plastic, factors that cause intensified perception, attention, and memory leading to repetitive behaviors, adherence to routine, and social withdrawal. Rather than following the deficit model of autism, Markram, Rinaldi, and Markram view autism as a condition of hyper-functionality that causes a painfully intense experience of the sensory and emotional world.

The authors are researchers at the Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.

McNiff, Shaun. “Art-Based Research.” In Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research: Perspectives, Methodologies, Examples, and Issues, edited by J. Gary Knowles and Ardra L. Cole, 29-40. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2007.

A very thought-provoking piece about using the arts as a primary form of research into human experience and the artistic process. The author does an excellent job of illustrating the different ways in which one can use artistic expression to break through accustomed modes of response and create solutions to both personal and social issues. Through such methods as drumming, movement in response to an artistic work, and dialogue with characters in dream sequences, artists can arrive at insights unavailable through conventional, linear discourse. In order to make various modes of arts-based research useful to others, McNiff adapts the scientific model, implementing a consistent method in a systematic way and documenting the results. While McNiff believes that both the arts and sciences are systematic attempts to understand an experience or phenomenon, he acknowledges that they differ in that science is invested in results that can be replicated and core principles that can be articulated, while the arts lend themselves to variety in experimentation, outcome, and interpretation.

Shaun McNiff is a professor at Lesley University, where he developed the program in Advanced Graduate Studies in Creativity, Imagination, and Leadership.

McRuer, Robert. “Compulsory able-bodiedness and queer/disabled existence.” In Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, edited by Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, 88-99. New York, NY: The Modern Language Association, 2002.

In this article, the author discusses the ways in which cultural imperatives toward able-bodiedness and heterosexuality are interwoven, with the result that disabled and queer people are marginalized by terms that apply to both: disabled people are seen as either asexual or hypersexual, and queer people are seen as sick and deviant. McRuer’s contention is that, because no one can actually attain normative ideals of heterosexuality and able-bodiedness, both concepts are in a state of crisis; the result is that the pressure is increasing on both disabled and queer people to allay this crisis with reassurances that they, too, would prefer to be “normal.” McRuer urges queer and disabled people to not fall into the trap of accepting that their ways of being are “alternatives” to normalcy ― a position that only reinforces the tyranny of the concept ― but to loudly proclaim, with their bodies and their words, the destructive effects of a world that attempts to enforce unattainable ideals regarding sexuality and ability. In so doing, McRuer hopes, queer and disabled people will turn their places on the margins into sources of resistance and of a radical vision of a society constructed to serve the needs of all of its members.

Robert McRuer is a professor of English and the associate director of the Human Science Program at George Washington University, where he specializes in queer theory and how it can inform ― and be informed by ― disability theory.

McRuer, Robert. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2006.

A groundbreaking book in which the author sets out to a) discuss how to create universal access and respect for disabled people in a world that defines progress as the erasure of disability, and b) analyze the cultural locations — in the home, in the law, in religion, in education, in the media, and in financial institutions — that create and enforce what Adrienne Rich called “compulsory heterosexuality” and what McRuer calls “compulsory able-bodiedness.” McRuer argues that compulsory heterosexuality is inextricably bound up with compulsory able-bodiedness; that is, intrinsic to the definition of heterosexuality is that one be able-bodied, and intrinsic to the definition of able-bodiedness is that one be heterosexual. He makes the important point that homosexuality defines the edges of the construct of heterosexuality, and that disability defines the edges of the construct of able-bodiedness, in much the same way that Toni Morrison argues that blackness defines the edges of the construct of whiteness. The result is that able-bodiedness, heterosexuality, and whiteness seem to have no substance in and of themselves. By being defined in opposition to disability, homosexuality, and blackness, they fade into the background as universal, natural, normal, and unquestioned states of being.

One of McRuer’s most powerful insights is that the term normalcy brings a tremendous amount of compulsion with it. For many, the notion of normalcy seems so bland and so benign that it’s easy to forget the powerful social pressures that enforce it and the consequences to people who end up on the “wrong” side of the line. Moreover, because one can never fulfill the dictates of idealized able-bodiedness and idealized heterosexuality, McRuer argues, all of us end up in a terrible bind. Our culture teaches that able-bodiedness and heterosexuality are compulsory and yet, they are impossible to fully attain in their idealized, socially constructed forms.

Robert McRuer is a professor of English and the associate director of the Human Science Program at George Washington University, where he specializes in queer theory and how it can inform ― and be informed by ― disability theory.

Mercola.com. “The Latest Risky Fad to Hit Your Child’s Pediatrician’s Office.” http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/14/flu-vaccines-for-family-members.aspx?e_cid=20120214_DNL_art_2. February 14, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

In this article, the author rejects the notion that family members should receive the flu and the Tdap vaccines in order to protect children too young to be vaccinated. He suggests that it is dangerous and ineffective for adults to receive these vaccines, and that the practice of administering them is simply a plot by the pharmaceutical companies to sell vaccines to adults who might not otherwise get them. He also makes the absurd statement that one can protect against infectious diseases like pertussis, diphtheria, and influenza simply by boosting the immune system in ways that include the following: 1) take more Vitamin D; 2) avoid refined sugar; 3) exercise; 4) eat uncooked food; and 5) learn stress-management techniques.

The Mercola.com site is run by Dr. Joseph Mercola, a doctor of osteopathy, who sells a wide variety of supplements and natural products on his site.

Miceli, Michael George and Jason Kenneth Steele. “Masking Eugenics as Science: A Critical Disability Studies Perspective of New Reproductive Technologies.” Journal on Developmental Disabilities 13, no. 2 (2007): 85-88. http://www.oadd.org/publications/journal/issues/vol13no2/download/miceli.pdf.

A brief article discussing the potential impact of pre-natal genetic testing on the lives of disabled people. The author asks whether, under the guise of science, genetic tests serve to propagate a eugenics agenda that makes the lives of disabled people of lesser value, especially when such testing is used to discard embryos in in-vitro fertilization. He cautiously answers in the affirmative, noting that genetic counseling provides a stereotypically negative picture of living with a disability that makes the choice to abort a potentially disabled fetus less than fully informed. Moreover, he notes that genetic testing screens for traits that are considered socially undesirable in a culture in which intelligence and physical strength are considered of the highest value.

Michael George Miceli is a PhD candidate in Critical Disability Studies at York University. Jason K. Steele is an MPH candidate in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.

Michalko, Rod. Mystery of the Eye and the Shadow of Blindness. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 1998.

A memoir about the author’s experience of blindness. The book contains a fascinating description of the ways in which Michalko became deeply aware of social pressures and learned to manipulate social interactions in order to pass as sighted. He begins with a nod to Goffman’s analysis of the ways in which stigmatized people use “impression management” in order to pass as non-stigmatized, and then goes into a brilliant exposition of how, as a teenager, he managed to convince his friends — without disclosing his blindness — of the truth of a story he had concocted about why he was unable to obtain a driver’s license.

Rod Michalko is an associate professor of Equity Studies at the University of Toronto, where he teaches courses on Disability Studies, and is an adjunct professor of Disability Studies at York University. His work focuses on disability as a cultural construct, and he uses his own experience of blindness as a touchstone.

Mihalovic, Dave.The Entire Vaccine Industry Is Being Exposed For Unproven Assumptions And Misrepresentations of Data.” PreventDisease.com, October 10, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012. http://preventdisease.com/news/12/101012_The-Entire-Vaccine-Industry-Is-Being-Exposed-For-Unproven-Assumptions-And-Misrepresentations-of-Data.shtml.

An article that states that vaccines have never been safe or effective, that herd immunity is a myth, that vaccines were developed by pharmaceutical companies to create disease rather than to prevent it, and that pharmaceutical companies and government agencies are engaged in a conspiracy to cover up information regarding the alleged dangers and ineffectiveness of vaccination.

Dave Mihalovic is a doctor of naturopathy.

Millett-Gallant, Ann. The Disabled Body in Contemporary Art. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

A book that places contemporary art featuring disability in the context of art history, from classicism to Renaissance art to freak show cartes de visite. Millett-Gallant does an especially good job of bringing out the contradictions in depictions of disability, particularly regarding Marc Quinn’s sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant and Diane Arbus’ photographs of giants and little people. She argues against David Hevey’s idea that Arbus simply “enfreaked” disabled people in her photographs and poses the much more complex interpretation that Arbus posed disability as utterly normal and domestic, on the one hand, and as disquieting and fascinating, on the other — a contradiction embedded in the culture we live in.

Ann Millett-Gallant is a disabled woman and a lecturer in the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (BLS) online program at the University of North Carolina, where she specializes in the role of disabled artists in contemporary culture.

Minnich, Elizabeth Kamarck. Transforming Knowledge. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2005.

In this book, the author analyzes the epistemological underpinnings of western thought and science, critiquing the ways in which knowledge systems are imbued with exclusionary and hierarchical thinking that reflects and reinforces injustice and inequality in the larger society.

Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich holds a PhD in Philosophy from The New School for Social Research and is a Senior Scholar in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Miss Eco Glam. “Treating Infants with Whooping Cough. ~ Suzanne Humphries.” http://www.missecoglam.com/health/item/4780-treating-infants-with-whooping-cough-suzanne-humphries-md. October 1, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2102.

An article in which the author asserts that hospitalization for infants with whooping cough is dangerous to them and directs mothers to give their children natural remedies in order to cure them from this potentially fatal illness. Suzanne Humphries is a nephrologist who campaigns against vaccination and asserts that people should only be treated by homeopaths, chiropractors, and osteopaths.

Mitchell, David T. and Sharon L. Snyder. “Narrative Prosthesis.” In The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, 274-287. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

In this excellent article, the authors discuss their concept of “narrative prosthesis” — a term that describes the way in which the structure of a literary narrative depends upon disability and disabled characters. Mitchell and Snyder begin by noting that in nearly every culture, disability is considered a conundrum that must be interpreted, understood, and resolved. Because narrative depends upon the unusual, the different, and the exceptional as its reason for being, disability becomes a way in which disruption and unanswered questions enter the text and present themselves for resolution. If the characters and the plot consisted of simply “normal” events, the authors claim, there would be no reason for the story at all. Once disability enters, it has a kind of subversive power. It can be an occasion for critiquing the construction of normalcy or for highlighting the limited nature of cultural claims to objective truth. In order to create resolution, Mitchell and Snyder assert, the narrative uses one of the following strategies: the character recovers from the disability; the narrative incorporates the disabled person into the social fabric; the narrative rejects the disabled person entirely; or the story allows the disabled figure to spark a rewriting of what constitutes consciousness and humanity. Ultimately, the authors posit, the disabled body in literature gives material form to ideology, thought, and abstraction and allows the narrative to come into being.

David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder are both associate professors of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois-Chicago. They co-edited the book The Body and Physical Difference and co-authored the book Cultural Locations of Disability.

Montuori, Alfonso. “Literature Review as Creative Inquiry: Reframing Scholarship as a Creative Process.” Journal of Transformative Education 3, no. 4 (2005): 374-393. doi: 10.1177/154134460527938.

An excellent piece about the process of writing a literature review as a creative endeavor that consists of participation in the scholarly conversation, interpretation of the discourse, and an opportunity for greater self-understanding. Montuori notes that, in crafting a literature review, one must be selective about the authors, the work, and the theories one chooses to address, and he emphasizes the power of looking at the literature from the perspective of the assumptions that underlie it. He categorizes those assumptions as disciplinary, cultural, and (meta-) paradigmatic, and asserts that the process of questioning the assumptions of scholars in the field can (and should) lead to an examination of one’s own assumptions. He exhorts the reader to remember that academic writing and research are creative enterprises carried on in a community guided not by dry reason, but by emotion, inspiration, politics, conflict, and collaboration.

Alfonso Montuori is a professor in the Transformative Inquiry department at California Institute of Integral Studies. He has written a number of books and articles on creativity and education.

Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. New York, NY: Vintage, 1993.

In this brilliant series of three lectures, Morrison explores the ways in which the figure of the person of color — the Africanist persona — informs American literary works and becomes a foil against which white authors define what it means to be masculine, white, American, and free. The author asserts that many of the themes that have concerned major American authors — individualism, authority, autonomy, innocence, difference, ethics, and fear — have actually been a response to the presence of people of African origin in an America based on slavery and inequality. In fact, she argues that the concepts of freedom and the rights of man could not exist without the fact of slavery. Ultimately, she believes, the terms “American” and “white” have become defined simply as not-black, and that blackness has become the repository for everything considered negative by the culture: sexuality, loss of control, lack of autonomy and power, immorality, danger, and chaos.

From a disability studies perspective, one of the most striking aspects of Morrison’s work is that her understanding of the uses of Africanist characters in American literature parallels the ways in which disability studies scholars understand the uses of disabled characters. For instance, Morrison argues that cultural paradoxes, conflicts, and fears are played out using the figures of black characters; in Narrative Prosthesis, disability studies scholars Mitchell and Snyder similarly argue that cultural issues are played out in the figures of disabled characters. Moreover, Morrison argues that unresolved and unspoken issues about the social position of black people cause literary narratives to derail, and the plot lines to become interrupted or even fail; in Aesthetic Nervousness, disability studies scholar Ato Quayson asserts, in a similar vein, that uncritiqued notions of disability create narrative problems that interfere with the smooth rendering of the text. Finally, Morrison’s assertion that Emerson defines his nineteenth-century American man against everything associated with blackness parallels the way that Garland-Thomson, in Extraordinary Bodies, suggests that Emerson defines the American man against everything associated with disability. I don’t know whether Mitchell and Snyder, Quayson, and Garland-Thomson were familiar with Morrison’s book (which was published prior to their work), but the parallels are quite striking.

One of the most poignant and powerful moments in Morrison’s book comes when she describes her realization that the figures of Africanist characters said so much more about the writers than they did about black people. She writes, “I came to realize the obvious: the subject of the dream is the dreamer. The fabrication of an Africanist persona is reflexive; an extraordinary meditation on the self; a powerful exploration of the fears and desires that reside in the writerly consciousness (16).” The same could be said for representations of disabled characters — that they say far more about the concerns of the able-bodied writer than about disabled people. Just as Morrison is interested in the impact of racial bigotry on those in the majority who espouse it, struggle with it, or reject it, I think it would be important to look at the impact of ableism on the able-bodied people who live in a society thoroughly imbued with it.

Toni Morrison is a novelist and the Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton University. Among her novels are Tar Baby, Sula, and Beloved. She received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Mottron, Laurent, Michelle Dawson, Isabelle Soulieres, Benedicte Hubert, and Jake Burack. “Enhanced Perceptual Functioning in Autism: An Update, and Eight Principles of Autistic Perception.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 36, no. 1 (January 2006): 27-43. doi: 10.1007/s10803-005-0040-7.

An important study that provides an update to the Enhanced Perceptual Functioning model of autism first developed in 2001. This updated model seeks to describe the difference between autistic and non-autistic perceptual experiences in eight different areas, positing that 1) autistic people focus on local details more than non-autistic people; 2) autistic people show evidence of hyper-specialized neural circuits; 3) atypical autistic behaviors are a way to regulate a vast amount of sensory input; 4) autistic people have enhanced spatial and visual processing; 5) autistic people show a higher degree of variable responses to cognitive tasks than non-autistic people; 6) an extremely high degree of perceptual functioning is responsible for the savant skills in a minority of autistic people; 7) the differences in autistic subtypes have to do with the interests to which autistic people gravitate and the ways in which those interests are encouraged; and 8) autistic people have enhanced functioning in the posterior and central regions of the perceptual visual cortex.

The authors are all researchers associated with the Pervasive Developmental Disorders Specialized Clinic at the Riviere-des-Prairies Hospital and with the Fernand Seguin Research Center at the University of Montreal.

Murphy, Robert Francis. The Body Silent. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1990.

Written by an anthropologist who became quadriplegic in mid-life as the result of a spinal cord tumor, The Body Silent is one of the great works on the sociology of disability. Tracing his own journey into disability, the late Robert Murphy analyzes the ways in which disabled people are excluded from society and deconstructs the reasons why. In so doing, he reframes the origin of the social stigma of disability, positing that social exclusion derives not from the fact that disability is considered a deviance from the norm, but from the fact that it is seen as a state of liminality — of being neither here or there. In the larger culture, Murphy argues, disabled people are considered neither ill nor well, neither dead nor alive, neither within society nor completely outside it. As a result, they threaten established categories, have no clear social role that would make others comfortable with them, and find themselves avoided, feared, and shunned. At its core, The Body Silent is a book about disability as a symbol of the struggle in all people between life and love, on the one hand, and death and alienation, on the other.

Robert Murphy was a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University.

O’Brien, Rory. “An Overview of the Methodological Approach of Action Research.” Accessed November 18, 2011. http://www.web.net/~robrien/papers/arfinal.html.

A very good introduction to action research, a method of inquiry that consists of a collaborative process of defining a problem, attempting to solve it, evaluating the success of the endeavor and, if necessary, going through another cycle. The author notes that one of the key strengths of action research lies in its dual purpose: to solve specific, real-world problems and to study those problems systematically. In the process, researchers improve their methodologies and ensure that the collection and analysis of results takes place within a clearly defined theoretical framework. O’Brien presents two versions of the cyclical process of action research: a) Kemmis’ sequence of “plan, act, observe, reflect” and b) Susman’s more complex method of “diagnosing,” “action planning,” “taking action,” “evaluating,” and “specifying learning.” He then outlines the six principles of action research — “reflexive critique,” “dialectical critique,” “collaborative resource,” “risk,” “plural structure,” and “theory, practice, transformation” — and provides an overview of the three main types of action resource (“traditional,” “contextual,” and “radical”).

Based in Toronto, Rory O’Brien has worked in the areas of social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and social advocacy for many years. From 2004 through 2005, he was the coordinator of the Corporate Social Responsibility Program, and from 2006 through 2008, he was the coordinator of the Greening Sacred Spaces Program. From 1997 through 2004, he was in the PhD program in Information Studies at the University of Toronto, where he studied online communications, social movements, and global policy.

Ogundipe, Sola. “Vaccine Bombshell: Baby Monkeys Develop Autism Symptoms After Obtaining Doses of Popular Vaccines.” Pakalert Press, November 5, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012. http://www.pakalertpress.com/2012/11/05/vaccine-bombshell-baby-monkeys-develop-autism-symptoms-after-obtaining-doses-of-popular-vaccines/.

An article about a discredited study in which the researchers concluded that vaccines cause autistic symptoms in monkeys, despite the fact that they admitted that their findings were statistically insignificant. Sola Ogundipe is a Nigerian journalist.

Otagiri T., T. Mitsui, T. Kawakami, M. Katsuura, K Maeda, T. Ikegami, D. Sendo, and K. Hayasaka. “Haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis following measles vaccination.” European Journal of Pediatrics 161, no. 9 (September 2002): 494-496. doi: 10.1007/s00431-002-1027-4.

A study that covers the first reported case of haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a condition that includes high fever and liver dysfunction, after a measles vaccination. A 19-month-old girl developed the condition after receiving the vaccine, and while the authors cannot conclude with certainty that the vaccine caused the condition, they feel that the vaccine was the probable reason. The researchers for this study are all associated with the Department of Pediatrics at the Yamagata University School of Medicine in Japan.

Parker, Richard and Peter Aggleton. “HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination: a conceptual framework and implications for action. Social Science & Medicine 57, no.1 (2003): 13-24.

A well-argued, incisive piece in which the authors a) critique the notion that stigma is an individual matter than can be solved with education and sensitivity training, and b) analyze stigma as an essential part of maintaining social hierarchies, power inequities, and systems of exclusion. Parker and Aggleton critique the existing theoretical frameworks regarding stigma, analyze the efforts to combat stigma, and present a new framework that brings together the work of Erving Goffman, who saw stigma as the outcome of social interaction, and Michel Foucault, who looked at difference through the lens of power and knowledge. The authors use the work of both scholars to redefine stigma as a social process that works to reify existing power structures. They feel strongly that stigma can only be dislodged by resisting those structures and by making changes in law and social policy. While their analysis focuses on the stigma of HIV and AIDS, it has a number of applications to all manner of disability stigma.

Richard Parker is the co-director of the Global Community Core and a Professor of Anthropology and Sociomedical Sciences at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He specializes in the connections between health, inequality, and illness, particularly with respect to HIV/AIDS. Peter Aggleton is a Professor of Education and Health at the University of New South Wales, where he focuses his research on analyzing the social repercussions of HIV.

Paul, Richard and Linda Elder. “Critical Thinking: The Nature of Critical and Creative Thought.” Journal of Developmental Education 30, no. 2 (Winter 2006): 34-35. http://media.myunion.edu/faculty/miltichl/MAP509/XElderandPaul.pdf.

A short article that illustrates the ways in which creativity and critical thought, often held to be separate and in opposition to each other, are actually interwoven processes, each equally necessary to clear, rigorous, and in-depth thinking. For Paul and Elder, creativity encompasses producing thoughts, playing them against one another, modifying them, interpreting them, and organizing them in a variety of ways, while critical thought involves assessing the results of this creative process according to intellectual standards and with reference to a clearly articulated purpose. In a wonderful analogy, the authors compare the interplay of creative and critical thought with the way a dancer creates a dance while performing in front of a mirror so that he or she can assess the quality of the performance.

Richard Paul and Linda Elder have strong expertise in the field of critical thought. Richard Paul is the Director of Research and Professional Development at the Center for Critical Thinking at Sonoma State University. Linda Elder is an educational psychologist and the Executive Director of the Center for Critical Thinking.

Peace, William J. “Comfort Care as Denial of Personhood.” Hastings Center Report (2012): 1-3. doi: 10.1002/hast.38.

A searing piece in which the author, a paraplegic for 30 years, talks about the horrifying experience of being offered assisted suicide in the form of an offer to withdraw life-saving antibiotics. Peace reflects upon the devaluation of disabled lives that leads up to such moments, noting that our culture tends to give disabled people a great deal of support when they want to die, but very little support when they want to live. He discusses the cultural assumption that death is preferable to disability, and suggests that beneath this assumption is the unspoken fact that disabled bodies expose the limits of medical science.

William J. Peace is a disability rights activist and a professor of anthropology at Union College.

Pelka, Fred. What We Have Done. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012.

In this outstanding and exhaustive study of the disability rights movement, the author combines the basics of historical detail — the who, why, what, when, where, and how of the movement — with first-person accounts by the people who played leading roles in it. The result is a work that covers the framing of disability as a civil rights issue from the founding of the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) and the American Federation of the Physically Handicapped (AFPH) in 1940 through the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. The book is rich in information about such subjects as the independent living and psychiatric survivor movements, the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975, the fight to implement of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in 1977, the protests that brought the first Deaf president to Gallaudet University in 1988, and the steps leading to the passage of the ADA in 1990. Pelka weaves the voices of disabled activists through his historical narrative, giving form to the principle that underlies the disability rights movement, Nothing about us, without us.

Fred Pelka is an independent scholar and the author of The ABC-CLIO Guide to the Disability Rights Movement.

Pernick, Martin S. The Black Stork: Eugenics and the Death of “Defective” Babies in American Medicine and Motion Pictures Since 1915. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996.

This fascinating book discusses early twentieth-century eugenics and analyzes its intersection with issues of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and disability. Pernick’s text focuses on a doctor named Harry Haiseldon, who in the early part of the twentieth century was the first doctor to publicly acknowledge that he was allowing disabled newborns to die, mainly by withholding surgery and other life-sustaining measures, although there is evidence in at least one case that he provided a new mother with pain medication for the purpose of hastening her child’s death. Haiseldon ultimately wrote and starred in a 1917 movie called The Black Stork, which was a propaganda piece for the eugenics movement and a dramatized version of his most highly publicized case of passive euthanasia, carried out on a severely disabled newborn called Baby Bollinger.

As Pernick shows, the eugenics movement came out of the upheavals occurring in the early twentieth century in the wake of industrialization, scientific and medical discoveries, changing conditions of work, and questions of what constitutes a human being. He uses the Baby Bollinger case to illuminate and discuss the questions that were at the core of the eugenics movement: Which characteristics are caused by genetic markers? Which characteristics are considered positive, which ones are considered negative, and why? How should medicine and social policy come together to produce the “positive” characteristics? And who should have the authority to implement the changes implied by the answers to these questions? For Pernick, eugenics represented a naive (and dangerous) faith in the power of science and technology to solve social problems. Pernick doesn’t cast judgment on the eugenicists as evil, although he is quite clear about their racism, anti-Semitism, and other prejudices. Rather, he lets their words speak for themselves as indications of the violent prejudices of the age.

Martin S. Pernick is a professor of history at the University of Michigan, where he specializes in questions of medical ethics and the history of disability and disease.

Pescosolido, Bernice A., Jack K. Martin, Annie Lang, and Sigrun Olafsdottir. “Rethinking theoretical approaches to stigma: A Framework Integrating Normative Influences on Stigma (FINIS).” Social Science & Medicine 67, no. 3 (2008): 431-440. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.03.018.

In this excellent piece, the authors both define stigma and describe the ways in which social forces combine to stigmatize difference. Pescosolido and her colleagues focus on the stigma of mental illness, but their framework is flexible enough to be applied to other forms of stigma.

The FINIS framework has three dimensions: the micro level, the macro level, and the meso level. At the micro level, the more apparent the individual’s illness, the greater the stigma; moreover, the stigma increases for people in otherwise marginalized groups. At the macro level, negative media representations reinforce stigma, and the social economy of a country has a distinct impact. In societies that provide universal health care, the conversation about mental illness works along the lines of acceptance and inclusion. In societies that do not provide universal health care, mental illness is generally associated with criminality, fear, and an imperative toward segregation and institutionalization. At the meso level, having positive, sustained and voluntary contact with disabled people tends to decrease stigma, but the treatment of mental illness by the psychiatric profession tends to increase it. The authors conclude that, ultimately, only systemic changes in law and policy will solve the problem of discrimination on the basis of stigma.

Bernice Pescosolido, the lead researcher for the study, holds a PhD in Sociology from Yale University and is a Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology at Indiana University, Bloomington. She specializes in issues of how social networks influence people’s beliefs and actions, and how people engage the experience of illness.

Peterson, Candida C. “Drawing insight from pictures: The development of concepts of false drawing and false belief in children with deafness, normal hearing, and autism.” Child Development 73 (2002): 1442–1459. http://people.uncw.edu/hungerforda/Infancy/PDF/Drawing%20from%20pictures.pdf.

A study seeking to explore the differences in performance on false-belief tests among hearing autistic children, deaf non-autistic children, and typically developing children. Using standard, verbally presented false–belief tasks and a set of false-drawing tasks, the author carried out three Theory of Mind (ToM) experiments with a group of hearing autistic and deaf non-autistic children between the ages of 6 and 13, and a group of typically developing four year olds. The autistic and deaf children scored significantly lower than controls on standard Unexpected Contents and Location Change false-belief tests; however, they scored higher on all drawing-based tests, and significantly so when completing the most advanced false-belief drawing task that measured both their own false intent and the false belief of another person.

Candida C. Peterson is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Queensland. She has written extensively on ToM, communication, and language development in deaf and autistic people.

Pfeiffer, David. “Disability Studies and the Disability Perspective.” Disability Studies Quarterly23, no. 1 (Winter 2003): 142-148. http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/406/559.

A very moving piece in the author calls for a discussion and definition of the disability perspective. He begins with the premise that to be a disabled person is to be a survivor, and that our experiences give us a keen understanding of injustice, a deep sense of empathy with other marginalized people, and a passion for making change. He acknowledges the anger, depression, and cynicism experienced by nearly all disabled people in the face of discrimination, and he holds fast to the belief that we must never surrender the fight to create a more just and life-affirming society.

David Pfeiffer held a doctorate in Political Science from the University of Rochester, and was a resident scholar in the Center on Disability Studies and a visiting scholar in the Political Science department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Over the course of several decades, he was active in a number of disability-related programs and policy initiatives, serving as the Massachusetts state director for the White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals, and helping to found the Massachusetts Office on Disability.

Pfeiffer, David. “The Philosophical Foundations of Disability Studies.” Disability Studies Quarterly22, no. 2 (Spring 2002): 3-23. http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/341/429.

An excellent piece that articulates the core features of the ontology and epistemology that drive western society, along with a discussion of the implications for disabled people. After carefully outlining the Greek and Christian roots of our present ways of understanding being and knowing, the author convincingly argues that our modern day outlook a) privileges the material world as the most important area of ontological study (leaving the non-material, ethical world to the study of non-worldly people) and b) holds up scientific, empirical evidence as the only true way of knowing. As a result, the world of ethics is left out of the scientific equation, and the real-time experiences and concerns of disabled people, which cannot be observed or replicated according to the requirements of scientific method, are devalued and ignored.

David Pfeiffer held a doctorate in Political Science from the University of Rochester, and was a resident scholar in the Center on Disability Studies and a visiting scholar in the Political Science department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Over the course of several decades, he was active in a number of disability-related programs and policy initiatives, serving as the Massachusetts state director for the White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals, and helping to found the Massachusetts Office on Disability.

Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York, NY: Viking, 2002.

A book that seeks to counter the idea that we human beings are blank slates at birth, and that asserts that we are born with the neurological underpinnings for creating human culture. In describing the process of cultural learning, Pinker asserts that autistic people, like robots and chimpanzees, are incapable of contributing to and participating in that culture.

Steven Pinker is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.

Quarmby, Katharine. Getting Away with Murder: Disabled people’s experiences of hate crime in the UK. London, England: Scope, 2008.

A disturbing report about disability hate crime in the UK that includes the following findings: disabled people are more likely to be victimized by hate crime than nondisabled people; disability prejudice is so widespread that crimes targeting people with disabilities are usually not classified as hate crimes; the near-invisibility of disability hate crime makes it difficult to combat; the perpetrators of disability hate crime are more likely to share an intimate relationship (such as that of a family member of caregiver) with the victim than the perpetrators of hate crime against gay people or people of color; disability hate crime often begins with harassment, such as name-calling and vandalism; the bullying of disabled children is common and rarely stopped by adults; disability hate crime is generally described by terms such as “abuse” and “bullying” that hide its true nature; the actions of adult protection agencies are often inimical to stopping disability hate crime; disability hate crime is rarely prosecuted, both because it is not framed as a hate crime, and because disabled people are considered to be questionable witnesses; and government agencies need to follow the lead of disability rights organizations in combating disability hate crime.

Katharine Quarmby is a writer, investigative journalist, and filmmaker whose work has appeared on the BBC and in The Economist, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, and The Telegraph. She is also a former news editor of the disability magazine, Disability Now.

Quayson, Ato. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2007.

In this book, the author introduces the term “aesthetic nervousness” to describe the ways in which the figure of disability disrupts the narrative form in works of literature. He traces the presence of aesthetic nervousness in the work of Samuel Beckett, Toni Morrison, Wole Soyinka, and J.M. Coestzee.

Quayson begins with a short summary of the history of disability representation from classical antiquity to the present. He notes that in classical antiquity, disability was a sign of either divine displeasure or spiritual insight. In the Middle Ages, a link became established between disability, disease, and sin, which engendered in nondisabled people the contradictory stances of charitable action and fearful reticence. Then, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, disability became subject to scientific scrutiny and fears emerged about sexuality creating disease, particularly with regard to the association between syphilis and blindness. In addition, during the colonialist era, disability became fused with racism and the fear of native peoples bringing both physical and moral disease to the body politic. Later, during the period of the two World Wars, disability became associated with rehabilitation and vocational training. Today, the discourse of science is interwoven with the old idea of metaphysical causes, particularly in those who believe disability to be a form of karmic punishment.

After completing his summary, Quayson turns to the issue of why disability creates aesthetic nervousness in literary texts. Following the work of Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, David Mitchell, and Sharon Snyder, Quayson posits that the core difficulty in social interactions between disabled and nondisabled people is that the ideology of normalcy is centered around creating order, predictability, and control. When people expect to find those elements in a social interaction, and they across a disabled person — whom they consider to represent disorder, contingency, loss of control, and vulnerability — the symbolic meanings of disability disrupt the interaction. This situation leads Quayson to suggest that a disabled person, whether in a personal interaction or in a work of literature, is in the position of the metaphysical: ungraspable, unknowable, and unrepresentable. The figure of disability therefore raises questions about metaphysical issues of death, fate, sin, mystery, and the divine. The disruption of the narrative form derives both from the anxiety engendered by disability in the world at large, and from the fact that disability, like metaphysical reality, eludes representation.

Ato Quayson is a professor of English at the University of Toronto, where he specializes in cultural and postcolonial studies.

Raising Natural Kids. “Pregnant Women and the Flu – Behind the Story of the Latest Announced Findings.” http://raisingnaturalkids.com/2012/11/12/pregnant-women-and-the-flu-behind-the-story-of-the-the-latest-announced-findings/. November 12, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

An article that argues that the flu vaccine is ineffective and that directs readers to boost their immunity and prevent the flu through natural approaches such as chiropractic treatment, increasing their intake of Vitamin D, taking elderberry, staying away from food with refined sugar and artificial ingredients, and washing hands with soap and water. The writer seems unaware that the flu can be a fatal illness that cannot always be prevented by natural methods.

Raising Natural Kids is a website whose owner is a mother of two with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in secondary education. She writes about healthy foods, natural childbirth, and the alleged inefficacy and lack of safety of vaccines.

Rogers, Kimberley, Isabel Dziobek, Jason Hassenstab, Oliver T. Wolf, and Antonio Convit. “Who Cares? Revisiting Empathy in Asperger Syndrome.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 37, no. 4 (2007): 709-715. doi: 10.1007/s10803-006-0197-8.

A groundbreaking study that addresses the issue of testing emotional/affective empathy (feelings of concern for the experience of others) separately from cognitive empathy (perspective taking) in autistic people. The researchers gave the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) and the Strange Stories test to 21 adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and to 21 non-autistic adults. The result was that the adults with Asperger’s scored lower than controls in cognitive empathy as measured by the Strange Stories test, scored equal to controls in empathic concern as measured by the IRI, and scored higher than controls on personal distress as measured by the IRI. While this study is clearly valuable in terms of addressing the emotional experience of autistic people, it does not address the question of whether the scenarios presented in the Strange Stories test to measure cognitive empathy are skewed toward understanding the perspectives of non-autistic people. It would be interesting to do a similar test in which non-autistic people are asked to take the perspectives of autistic people in a Strange Stories test and compare the results.

Kimberley Rogers, Isabel Dziobek, Jason Hassenstab, and Antonio Convit are researchers at the Center for Brain Health at the New York University School of Medicine. Oliver T. Wolf is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Dusseldorf.

Samuels, Ellen. “Critical Divides: Judith Butler’s Body Theory and the Question of Disability.” In Feminist Disability Studies, edited by Kim Q. Hall, 48-66. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2011.

In this essay, the author begins with two major questions about how to apply Judith Butler’s postmodernist work on gender theory to disability theory: What is the impact of applying Butler’s work on sex/gender to the field of disability studies? And are the postmodernist ideas of the body that Butler elucidates compatible with the reality of disabled bodies? In answer to her first question, Samuels notes that Butler’s notion of gender as a socially constructed category that shores up heteronormative power structures looks as though it would map easily onto the notion of disability as a socially constructed category that shores up ableist power structures. However, she cautions that gender is not the same as disability, and that disability studies scholars must take the time to determine which aspects of gender theory can illuminate disability theory. Further, in answer to her second question, she acknowledges that Butler seems more interested in linguistic and cultural representations of the body than in the material reality of bodies themselves and what happens to the people who inhabit them. As such, disability studies scholars tend to avoid using Butler’s work because it shies away from confronting the material reality of the disabled body.

Ellen Samuels is a professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her work has appeared in GLQ: Gay/Lesbian Quarterly, MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States, and Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies.

Sanders, Roy Q. The Experts Speak: Hard Times Come Again No More.”http://blog.autismspeaks.org/2011/04/20/experts-reflect-on-parenthood-finale/. April 20, 2011. Accessed December 29, 2011.

An article in which the author weighs in on an episode of the television show Parenthood, which features a character with Asperger’s Syndrome. In discussing the episode, Sanders refers to a purported autistic empathy deficit, and opines that teaching an autistic person empathy is like teaching a pig to sing — an ironic statement coming from a man presenting himself as empathetic.

Roy Q. Sanders is a physician and the Medical Director of the Marcus Autism Research Center in Atlanta, GA.

Savarese, Emily Thornton. “What We Have to Tell You: Self-Advocate Roundtable With Members of AutCom.” Disability Studies Quarterly 30, no.1 (2010). http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/1073/1239.

A paper that provides a transcript of a moderated discussion with members of the Autism National Committee, all of whom are autistic and on different points on the autism spectrum. The discussion revolved around the following issues: priorities for the Obama administration with regard to disability rights; the process and principles of self-advocacy; the role of parents, caregivers, and professionals in the autistic civil rights movement; the experience of being diagnosed; and the issue of empathy.

Emily Thornton Savarese was an educational coordinator and the assistant director at the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and is now an educational consultant who gives presentations on the issue of inclusion for autistic people.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “Queer and Now.” In The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, edited by Donald E. Hall and Annamarie Jagose, 3-17. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.

In this rich piece of writing, Sedgwick covers a number of topics central to queer theory. She grounds her writing in the reality of the lives of gay and lesbian youth, who face higher than average rates of suicide and homelessness because of the societal repression of queer sexuality and identity. She asserts the need to read conventional texts with an eye toward the presence of queer characters and perspectives as a means of at least partially counteracting that repression. She defines queerness as a state in which conventional elements of sexual identity — such as being cis-gendered and straight — do not all line up as a unitary category. She then extends the definition of queerness to the ways in which sexuality and gender identity intersect with race, class, and the postcolonialist experience. She ends with a brilliant diatribe against the term “politically correct,” arguing that it is an expression of anti-intellectualism on both the left and the right.

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick was a pioneer in the field of queer studies. She was a professor of English at Hamilton College, Boston University, Amherst College, Dartmouth, Duke University and the City University of New York. Her books included Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire and Epistemology of the Closet.

Shakespeare, Tom and Nicholas Watson. “The Social Model of Disability: An Outdated Ideology?” Research in Social Science and Disability 2 (2001):9-28. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/disability-studies/archiveuk/Shakespeare/social%20model%20of%20disability.pdf.

In this article, the authors argue that the British social model of disability is flawed and should be replaced by a new paradigm. Shakespeare and Watson begin by describing the basic tenets of the British social model: 1) disabled people face oppression as a social group; 2) there is a difference between impairment (one’s physical condition) and the oppression that disabled people face in society; and 3) the term disability denotes the oppression that results from social and architectural barriers. The authors then critique the social model by pointing out the following problems inherent in it: 1) a lack of attention to the limiting nature of physical and mental impairments; 2) a false dichotomy between biology and society, with a concomitant a failure to acknowledge that social forces have an impact on physical functioning and that physical functioning is always interpreted through the lens of language and culture; 3) a failure to take into consideration that not all barriers are social and architectural, and that disability involves some degree of physical limitation that cannot be entirely ameliorated by social change; and 4) a propensity to ignore the fact that many disabled people resist the label of disability placed upon them by both the medical community and the disability rights movement. Shakespeare and Watson propose a new paradigm, in which disability, rather than able-bodiedness, is considered “normal.” They base this paradigm on the fact that all bodies have impairments, that no body works in an ideal way, and that all bodies are frail, vulnerable, and subject to illness and disability. With such a paradigm, the task would be to work to end discrimination against people who have bodies that are still considered outside the norm in their societies.

Tom Shakespeare is a principal research associate in sociology at the University of Newcastle. His research interests include disability rights, genetics, and bio-ethics. His book Disability Rights and Wrongs was published in 2006, and he co-edited the book Arguing About Disability, which was published in 2009. Nicholas Watson is a Professor at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, and the chair of Disability Studies in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. He specializes in issues of disability history, disability theory, and identity.

Shakespeare, Tom. “Sex, death and stereotypes: disability in Sick and Crash.” In Signs of Life: Cinema and Medicine, edited by Graeme Harper and Andrew Moor, 58-69. London, England and New York, NY: Wallflower Press, 2005.

In this article, the author discusses the films Sick and Crash, both of which use extremely graphic and disturbing representations linking disability, sexuality, mutilation, and suffering. The author concludes that these films are expressions of resistance to a culture that celebrates youth and health, and that denies pain and death. While I don’t agree that extreme representations of this kind serve any constructive purpose, I found the article useful for its insight into the ways in which the mainstream world sees disabled sexuality as perverse and forbidden.

Tom Shakespeare is a principal research associate in sociology at the University of Newcastle. His research interests include disability rights, genetics, and bio-ethics. His book Disability Rights and Wrongs was published in 2006, and he co-edited the book Arguing About Disability, which was published in 2009.

Shakespeare, Tom. “The Social Model of Disability.” In The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, 266-273. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

In this excellent introduction to the social model of disability, the author traces the origins of the model in the work of the Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) in Britain, illuminates the dichotomies on which the model is based, and engages in a very insightful discussion of its strengths and weaknesses. In Shakespeare’s view, the strengths of the social model lie in its effectiveness in a) creating a social movement, b) describing the barriers that must be torn down in order for disabled people to have full inclusion in society, and c) helping to form the basis of a positive, empowered disabled identity. The model’s weaknesses, the author believes, derive from its insistence that all restrictions on disabled people are socio-political in nature. This insistence leads to the following problems: a) a failure to address the impact of individual impairment on functioning; b) an assumption that disability is itself oppression, rather than a condition taking place within a framework of oppression; c) a failure to account for the interplay between individual medical issues and larger social forces; and d) a denial of the impossibility of creating a fully barrier-free world. Shakespeare does not favor a return to the medical model, which he considers to be inimical to progress on social policy, but favors a more complex model that would address all the different layers of challenge — from the personal, to the medical, to the social, to the political — that attend disability.

Tom Shakespeare is a principal research associate in sociology at the University of Newcastle. His research interests include disability rights, genetics, and bio-ethics. His book Disability Rights and Wrongs was published in 2006, and he co-edited the book Arguing About Disability, which was published in 2009.

Shapiro, Joseph. No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement. New York, NY: Random House, 1994.

In this empowering and informative book, Shapiro provides an excellent introduction to the history of the Disability Rights Movement, from its beginnings in the Berkeley independent living movement of the 1960s and 1970s, through the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Combining first-rate historical research with in-depth interviews with disabled people, Shapiro uses his engaging journalistic style to cover a broad range of topics, including the philosophical underpinnings of the Disability Rights Movement; the struggle against the medical and charity models in favor of independent living and self-determination; the history of Deaf culture and the Deaf civil rights movement; the role of parents in securing early victories in the movement for disability rights; the rise of self-advocacy among people with intellectual disabilities; the history of designing technological aids for disabled people, from lightweight wheelchairs to voice-activated systems; the fight for deinstitutionalization; and the issue of assisted suicide.

Shapiro’s book was published just four years after the passage of the ADA, and as such, reflects a great deal of hopefulness about the ADA’s potential to change American society — a potential that has not been borne out in the years since the passage of the law. As Shapiro points out, the Disability Rights Movement differs from other civil rights movements in that the ADA was passed before the average American had the opportunity to learn about the civil rights violations common to disabled people’s experience; therefore, when attempting to implement the law, supporters saw the public questioning the very reason for it. As a result, most people still do not see disability rights as a civil rights issue, and the ADA, while it has resulted in some degree of change, has not brought about the sweeping transformation its proponents had hoped for.

Joseph Shapiro is an investigative journalist and an NPR News Investigations correspondent who focuses on issues of health, aging, and disability. Before his work at NPR, he wrote about healthcare, long-term care, disability, and illness at U.S. News & World Report.

Sherry, Mark. “Don’t Ask, Tell, or Respond: Silent Acceptance of Disability Hate Crimes.” DAWN: DisAbled Women’s Network Ontario. January 8, 2003. Accessed May 26, 2012. http://dawn.thot.net/disability_hate_crimes.html.

An excellent piece in which the author discusses the definition of hate crime, the FBI statistics on disability hate crime, and the way in which to interpret those statistics. Sherry defines a hate crime as a form of psychological and/or physical violence perpetrated against people on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. He notes that hate crimes directly target the individual(s) attacked and indirectly target the communities of which they are a part; moreover, he shows that in hate crimes, two crimes take place: the act of violence, and the bias crime. He further asserts that hate crimes tend to involve higher levels of violence than non-bias crimes, and with more severe psychological impact. In general, the victims of hate crimes are unarmed, the assaults are unprovoked, and the perpetrators live outside the area and are unknown to the victims. The idea that one must be a stranger to perpetuate a hate crime makes prosecution of disability hate crime especially difficult, given that caregivers and support staff can be involved in these crimes.

Sherry examines FBI statistics on disability hate crime in five areas for the period from 1997-2001: 1) all disability hate crimes; 2) disability hate crimes against persons; 3) disability hate crimes against property; 4) the locations of disability hate crimes; and 5) the races of the perpetrators of disability hate crimes. In the course of his analysis, Sherry notes that disability hate crimes makes up less than one half of one percent of all hate crimes reported, but that other statistics show that disabled people are at much higher risk for physical and sexual assault than the general population; thus, he concludes that disability hate crime is a largely under-recognized and under-reported phenomenon.

In the latter part of the paper, Sherry suggests a number of reasons for the lack of proper reporting and prosecution of disability hate crime: victims sometimes do not report these crimes; not all law-enforcement agencies report hate crime; district attorneys often do not prosecute the bias component of the crime because is hard to prove; law enforcement officials often do not recognize the bias component of the crime at all; the crimes are often referred to as “abuse”; the perpetrator is often known to the victim, or the perpetrator is also disabled, so the police do not consider the possibility that the crime could be based on hate against the victim on the basis of disability; witnesses often do not come forward; the police often do not recognize that the victim is disabled; the victim’s disability often becomes overshadowed by other aspects of identity, such as race or religion, as the purported cause of the attack; and the medical model of disability is in use, which leaves out people who have recovered from their disabilities but are still targeted on the basis of them. Sherry concludes that because both “hate crime” and “disability” are incorrectly defined by law enforcement and prosecutors, the FBI statistics do not match the reality of violence in the lives of disabled people.

Mark Sherry is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Toledo, where he has taught classes in women’s studies, disability studies, social inequality, social psychology, and social theory. He is the author of Disability Hate Crimes and Disability and Diversity: A Sociological Perspective.

Sherry, Mark. “Overlaps and contradictions between queer theory and disability studies.” Disability & Society 19, no. 7 (December 2004): 769-783. doi: 10.1080/0968759042000284231.

A paper that begins by discussing the ways in which queer people and disabled people share similar experiences, such as isolation inside heteronormative/able-bodied families, a high rate of violent victimization, ongoing prejudice and systemic discrimination, and issues of coming out of the closet. The author then goes on to look at the similarities between Queer Studies and Disability Studies, noting that they share a rejection of the ideal of “normalcy,” pose the question of whether to assimilate or proclaim difference, use critiques that describe their constituencies as similar to everyone else while being steeped in difference, work with the social construction of identity, reject simple binaries, and analyze the ways in which established norms play out to create queer and disabled subjects. Sherry provides a very good introduction to the work of such pioneers in Queer Studies as Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and provides some introductory examples of the ways in which disability and queerness intersect in mainstream discourse.

Mark Sherry is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Toledo, where he has taught classes in women’s studies, disability studies, social inequality, social psychology, and social theory. He is the author of Disability Hate Crimes and Disability and Diversity: A Sociological Perspective.

Siebers, Tobin. Disability Theory. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2011.

A groundbreaking work in which the author raises a number of issues critical to disability studies. Siebers addresses the questions of how critical theory and disability theory can challenge and inform each other, how disability scholars can move past the poststructuralist position that all experience is simply a linguistic construct and give voice to the embodied experience of disability, and how identity politics can move forward the disability rights movement in its struggle for social inclusion, including the rights of sexual citizenship.

Underpinning all of these issues is one basic question: How do we overturn the medicalized version of disability that sees impairment as a purely individual matter of physical functioning, and represent disability, in Simi Linton’s words, as a “social, political, and cultural phenomenon”? In answering this question, Siebers suggests two strategies. First, he explores the issue of how to redefine disability away from being an identity that is the property of an individual and toward a form of social theory and a representation of the political, social, and cultural position of disabled people collectively. Then, he argues for a paradigm that moves beyond the thinking of individualism toward conceptualizing the body not as the property of one person, but as a paradigmatic expression of who is welcome in public spaces, who has the right to private sexuality, and who has human worth. He concludes that the only way to ensure human rights is to stop seeing disability as an individual tragedy, but as the common inheritance of all human beings whose bodies are frail and vulnerable, and who therefore depend upon one another for protection and support.

Tobin Siebers is a V. L. Parrington Collegiate Professor, a professor of English Language and Literature, and a Professor of Art and Design at the University of Michigan.

Smith, Adam. “The Empathy Imbalance Hypothesis of Autism: A Theoretical Approach to Cognitive and Emotional Empathy in Autistic Development.” The Psychological Record 59 (2009): 489-510. http://cogprints.org/6799/1/TPRVol59No3-SMITH.pdf.

An article that defines and discusses the Empathy Imbalance Hypothesis (EIH) as a unifying theory of autism and an alternative to Baron-Cohen’s Extreme Male Brain theory. According to the EIH, autistic people have low cognitive empathy but high emotional empathy, with this heightened empathic response leading to autistic behaviors. In addition to building on current mainstream research, the author incorporates into the evidence base for his theory the voices of autistic people and those who live and work with them.

Adam Smith is an independent theoretician living in Dundee, Scotland.

Smith, Phil. “Whiteness, Normal Theory, and Disability Studies.” Disability Studies Quarterly 24, no. 2 (2004): 1-24. http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/491/668.

An excellent article that discusses the principles of Whiteness Theory and suggests that a mode of analysis called Normal Theory might be developed along similar lines. Whiteness Theory posits that by constructing racial groups, white society has made its own racial nature invisible — that is, people of color are “racial” and therefore wholly subjective agents, while whiteness is somehow neutral and beyond those categories. The main idea is that the construction of race makes invisible the subjectivity, interests, and power of the white majority while rendering other perspectives marginal. The author of the article proposes a similar theory, called Normal Theory, to describe the ways in which the construction of disability makes the idea of normalcy possible, with the result that the privileges and biases of normalcy become invisible.

Phil Smith is an associate professor of Special Education at Eastern Michigan University with a particular interest in disability studies and issues related to inclusion in education.

Smukler, David. “Unauthorized Minds: How ‘Theory of Mind’ Theory Misrepresents Autism.” Mental Retardation 43, no. 1 (February 2005): 11-24. doi: 10.1352/0047-6765(2005)43<11:UMHTOM>2.0.CO;2.

The Theory of Mind (ToM) theory of autism posits that autistic people lack a core brain module that would enable them to understand the perspectives of other people and empathize with their thoughts, feelings, and intentions. In carrying out a thorough-going critique of the ToM theory, Smukler discusses its history, shines a light on the largely unquestioned assumptions on which the theory is based, exposes the limitations of the research, and makes clear the dehumanizing impact of the deficit-driven nature of the theory on autistic people. He approaches the problem not from the perspective of science, but from a social constructionist framework, using the social model of disability to examine the ways in which the ToM theory is informed by value-laden assumptions. His paper is an excellent treatment of all the ways in which the ToM theory does not measure up to the standards of hard science, and it provides an excellent example of how to bring the social model of disability to bear on the critique of autism research.

David Smukler is an assistant professor of Foundations and Social Advocacy at SUNY Cortland, and holds a PhD from the School of Education at Syracuse University. In his dissertation, Unanticipated Speech and Autism, he uses the social model of disability to support his contention that many of the communication challenges of autistic people derive from the refusal of others to engage in dialogue across difference, rather than from the disability itself. David Smukler is the father of an autistic adult.

Solvang, Per. “The emergence of an us and them discourse in disability theory.” Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research 2, no. 1 (2000): 3-20. doi: 10.1080/15017410009510749.

An interesting piece in which the author suggests that we can understand disability as a social construct through the lens of three social discourses: the “normality/deviance” discourse (which posits that disabled people need to be made more “normal” through medical and educational means), the “equality/inequality” discourse (which centers around disabled people being clients of a welfare state and subject to political disempowerment), and the “us/them” discourse (which centers around issues of minority identity and culture). Solvang posits that while the “normality/deviance” discourse and the “equality/inequality” discourse have been well critiqued by disability studies scholars, the “us/them” discourse needs to be further explored. By using the example of the Deaf community, Solvang shows that creating a minority identity can take disabled people outside of the medical model and into the model of minority culture. In addition, he notes that Sartre’s description of creating subculture by consciously performing, dramatizing, parodying, and critiquing a stigmatized identity holds great promise for disability identity, because it allows disabled people to reclaim terms that the larger culture has created and make them their own. As Solvang points out, the reclamation of words like “crip” and “spastic” are part of this process of creating disability culture and wresting power away from the medical model in which those terms originated.

Per Solvang is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Bergen. He has published work on disability biography and on the social construction of learning disabilities.

Sontag, Susan. Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors. New York, NY: Picador, 2001.

In these two excellent books, the author explores the ways in which diseases such as tuberculosis, cancer, and AIDS become metaphors in the service of political strategies, social commentaries, and literary works. Sontag begins by comparing the ways in which tuberculosis was mythologized in the nineteenth century and cancer was mythologized in the twentieth century, concluding that tuberculosis became associated with people who were passionate and sensitive but repressed their sexuality, while cancer became associated with people who were indifferent and passionless because they had repressed their anger. She then charts the way in which the Western conception of disease changed from a) the ancient Greek notion that illness was either random or a divine punishment for individual, social, or ancestral sins, to b) the nineteenth-century idea that illness was a representation of a person’s temperament, to c) the modern notion that a person’s inner emotional and psychological state is responsible for illness. Searching for psychological origins of illness, Sontag believes, is a way of asserting control over one’s fears about disease and death. She raises the very interesting possibility that the continued proliferation of psychological diagnoses in our society is directly related to our culture’s denial of illness and death. If that is the case, it is ironic that military metaphors of disease as a foreign invader against which we must go to war use images of death in the service of the imperative to save life.

Sontag asserts that military metaphors of disease are always stigmatizing to those who are ill or disabled, and she finds that they add to the stigma of a disease like AIDS, which is linked not simply with poor physical choices or emotional outlooks (like tuberculosis or cancer), but also with sexual perversity and drug addiction. She notes that, unlike other epidemics such as influenza and smallpox, AIDS has been labeled a “plague” because of its association with sexuality and the ensuing moral judgments about what types of sexuality are healthy and appropriate. After exploring the metaphoric uses of illness, Sontag argues passionately that we should not use illness as an opportunity for interpretation and judgment, but see it solely as a physical condition affecting people who need care and support.

Susan Sontag was a novelist, essayist, and activist whose experience surviving cancer in 1978 provided the impetus for writing about illness and the ways in which our culture represents it.

Steele, Shelley, Robert M. Joseph, and Helen Tager-Flusberg. “Brief Report: Developmental Change in Theory of Mind Abilities in Children with Autism.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 33, no. 4 (August 2003): 461-467. doi: 10.1023/A:1025075115100.

A paper that discusses the results of a longitudinal study assessing whether Theory of Mind (ToM) development in 57 autistic children between the ages of 4 and 14 correlated with increased receptive and expressive language. The children completed two types of tests: language tests and ToM tests. One of the language tests ― the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test Third Edition (PPVT-III) ― measured receptive language, while the other one ― the Expressive Vocabulary Test (EVT) ― measured expressive language. The ten ToM tests were categorized as early, basic, and advanced. The early category consisted of a desire task and a pretend task; the basic category consisted of a perception/knowledge test, a location-change test, an unexpected-contents test, and a sticker-hiding test; and the advanced category consisted of a second-order false belief test, a lies and jokes test, a traits test, and a moral judgment test. The children were assessed twice, a year apart, and took different versions of the ToM tests each time. The results showed a significant correlation between an increase in receptive and expressive language and an increase in ToM ability, confirming earlier studies showing such a correlation in children with and without autism.

Shelley Steele was formerly associated as a graduate student with the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University. Robert M. Joseph holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, carried out postdoctoral work in developmental neuropsychology at Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University. Helen Tager-Flusberg holds a doctorate in Psychology from Harvard and is a professor of Psychology at Boston University, where she specializes in research on autism, specific language impairment (SLI), and Williams Syndrome.

Stevenson, Jennifer, Bev Harp, and Morton Ann Gernsbacher. “Infantilizing Autism.” Disability Studies Quarterly 31, no. 3 (2011). http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/1675.

A study that looks at the ways in which autism parents, autism organizations, and the media relentlessly portray autism as a childhood condition, with serious consequences for the visibility and well being of autistic people throughout the lifespan.

Jennifer Stevenson (nee Frymiare) is a doctoral student in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she has served as a graduate research assistant at the University of Wisconsin Research on Autism since 2004. Bev Harp is an autistic self-advocate and a graduate student in social work at the University of Kentucky. Morton Ann Gernsbacher holds a doctorate in Human Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently a Vilas Research Professor and the Sir Frederic C. Bartlett Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her work has centered on the cognitive processes that inform language, and she is considered an expert in the field of autism research.

Stokowski-Bisanti, Jeannie. “Researchers question influenza vaccine evidence.” Examiner.com, November 8, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012. http://www.examiner.com/article/researchers-question-influenza-vaccine-evidence.

An article that covers a study by the Cochrane Collaboration that concluded that vaccinating healthcare workers against the flu does not prevent flu, pneumonia, and death in long-term care facilities. Based on this study, the article goes on to question the efficacy of the flu vaccine altogether (along with the entire concept of herd immunity), and notes that the vaccine may cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), even though there is no scientific evidence for this conclusion. Especially noteworthy is the inclusion at the top of the piece of a man in a rehabilitation facility being aided by a healthcare worker as he attempts to walk with a walker. Behind him, another healthcare worker tends to his wheelchair, from which he has presumably just gotten up. It is unclear whether the man in the photo contracted GBS, but the photograph is clearly meant to invoke fear about the flu vaccine and its unproven link to the condition.

Jeannie Stokowski-Bisanti has been a model, flight attendant, and substitute teacher. She is now the stay-at-home mother of three children.

Stokowski-Bisanti, Jeannie. “Scientists say HPV vaccine may cause fatal autoimmune or neurological reactions.” Examiner.com, November 1, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012. http://www.examiner.com/article/scientists-say-hpv-vaccine-may-cause-fatal-autoimmine-or-neurological-reactions.

An article that covers the opinion of two Canadian scientists, Chris Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic, who believe that Gardasil, the vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), is causing fatal reactions and requires more testing. The writer attempts to discredit the main study in support of the safety of the vaccine by noting that it was sponsored by Merck and that the lead researcher received grant support from Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.

Jeannie Stokowski-Bisanti has been a model, flight attendant, and substitute teacher. She is now the stay-at-home mother of three children.

Stone-Mediatore, Shari. “Chandra Mohanty and the Revaluing of ‘Experience.’” In Decentering the Center: Philosophy for a Multicultural, Postcolonial, and Feminist World, edited by Uma Narayan and Sandra Harding, 177-188. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2000.

In this piece, Stone-Mediatore does an excellent analysis of Joan Scott’s poststructuralist critique of personal testimony about experience, and uses Chandra Mohanty’s analysis of third-world feminism as a theoretical framework for arriving at a new definition of experience.

In her essay “The Evidence of Experience,” Scott argues that because our selves are constituted through competing discourses, our experiences are simply reflections of those discourses, and narratives that describe experience simply reinscribe the oppressive forces that govern our lives. Stone-Mediatore, while agreeing that uncritical narration of experience threatens to reinforce oppressive systems, argues that marginalized people are fully capable of critical and nuanced thought about the discourses that oppress them. She attempts to find ground between empiricists, who believe that experience is pre-linguistic (and who therefore fail to critically engage the impact of social context on experience), and post-structuralists, for whom experience is simply a linguistic construct (and who therefore fail to understand the visceral nature of experience). She argues that conscious, critical narration does not simply reflect the impact of hegemonic discourses, but also contains a resistance to those discourses. For Stone-Mediatore, it is in the tension between the legacy of oppressive systems and the process of reframing, reinterpreting, and resisting them that experience is born.

Shari Stone-Mediatore holds a PhD in Philosophy from SUNY Stony Brook, and is a professor of Philosophy at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Swan, Jim. “Disabilities, Bodies, Voices.” In Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, edited bySharon L. Snyder,Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, 283-295. New York, NY: The Modern Language Association, 2002.

An excellent article in which the author argues that in order for disabled people to counter misrepresentation and assert themselves as full citizens with agency, they must write about the truth of their own embodied experiences from the inside, and without reference to notions of lack or deficit. He very rightly argues that much writing in Disability Studies is still mired in the binary opposition disabled and nondisabled, and he asserts that, by speaking to how their bodies perceive and interact with the world, disabled people can break down this opposition and show that impairment and ability are complex and fluid categories. Ultimately, Swan hopes that by writing in their own “embodied voices,” disabled people will create new ways to understand and to talk about disability.

Jim Swan is a professor of English at the State University of New York (SUNY), where he specializes on the topic of writing and the body.

Thinking Mom’s Revolution. “Heartbroken in Brooklyn.” http://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/heartbroken-in-brooklyn/. November 10, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

A piece that talks about the importance of parents sharing their stories about their autistic children’s purported vaccine reactions and about using biomedical techniques to “recover” them. Thinking Mom’s Revolution is an anti-vaccination website devoted to stories of alleged vaccine injuries and dubious biomedical “cures.”

Tomasello, Michael, Malinda Carpenter, Josep Call, Tanya Behne, and Henrike Moll. “Understanding and sharing intentions: The origins of cultural cognition.Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (2005): 1-61. http://www.eva.mpg.de/psycho/staff/moll/pdf/Tomasello_et_alll.pdf.

An article in which the authors put autistic children in the same category as apes and contrast them with “human children,” asserting that while autistic children understand the basics of intentionality, they are like apes in that they do not seek to understand the psychological states of others and do not participate in “normal” human social interactions.

The authors of this article are all researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Torraco, Richard J. “Writing Integrative Literature Reviews: Guidelines and Examples.” Human Resource Development Review 4, no. 3 (September 2005): 356-367. doi: 10.1177/1534484305278283.

A helpful and thought-provoking piece that discusses the purpose of a literature review and describes how to organize one. Torraco defines the goal of a literature review as the formation of a new perspective or paradigm for understanding the literature, and he emphasizes the importance of justifying why a literature review is necessary and why the questions it addresses are important. He then provides a discussion of each of the components of the review: defining the writer’s point of view on the topic; describing the methods by which the writer found the appropriate literature; engaging in a critique of the literature’s strengths and weaknesses; arriving at a synthesis, in which the writer creates a new framework or perspective; providing a description of the theoretical and logical underpinnings of the writer’s reasoning; and crafting a conclusion, in which the writer asks open-ended questions to inspire new lines of inquiry.

Richard J. Torraco is an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he coordinates the graduate program in Human Resource Development and works as a faculty member in the Department of Educational Administration.

Tosh, John. The Pursuit of History. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited, 2010.

An excellent book in which the author traces the development of historical schools and models, and describes the ways in which scholars come to the same questions from different perspectives, driven by their own interests and ideologies (whether conscious or not), while being selective about the information they look at. Over time, scholars respond to one another, and to the larger trends in the field, and different types of history become emphasized ― as demonstrated by the change in scholarly focus from political history, to social history, and then to cultural history. As Tosh points out, being selective about the data one chooses from the historical record is inevitable, and not particularly problematic, unless the historian cherry picks the information in order to further his or her hypothesis or agenda.

I was very interested in Tosh’s discussion of gender studies, race studies, and post-colonialism, because they address issues central to my research interests: the social construction of identity, the ways in which the language we use determines how we see ourselves and others, and the struggle of marginalized people to tell their own stories in the face of the ways they are represented by the dominant culture. Except for some very unfortunate ableist metaphors, Tosh makes no mention of disability or disability studies in his book, but the issues he raises around gender, race, and postcolonialism apply equally to questions of how disability is socially constructed, how the dominant medical model of disability affects both social policy and identity, how the language we use creates limited and limiting views of disability, and how disabled people resist the characterizations of able-bodied society.

John Tosh is a professor in the Department of History at Roehampton University, as well as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

The United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia. “Autism Researcher Indicted for Stealing Grant Money.” http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/press/2011/04-13-11.html. April 13, 2011. Accessed December 2, 2012.

A press release detailing the circumstances of the indictment of Dr. Paul Thorsen. Between 2004 and 2010, Dr. Thorsen allegedly stole over one million dollars in grant money awarded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to two Danish agencies — money that had been earmarked for the purpose of conducting research into an alleged relationship between autism and vaccines. Dr. Thorsen had been responsible for distributing the grant money for the research, and was indicted in federal court on nine counts of money laundering and thirteen counts of wire fraud. Although Dr. Thorsen played no role in the actual research that the grants funded, anti-vaccination groups have seized on his case as an example of what they allege to be the corruption inherent in vaccine research.

Vaccine Information Network (VINE). “Gardasil & Cervarix – exploiting females’ pelvic goldmine.” http://www.facebook.com/media/set/comments/?set=a.71183568997.96078.69667273997. Accessed December 25, 2012.

A post that argues that the vaccine against the human papillovirus (HPV) is unsafe and can cause injury and death. This post appears on a Facebook page whose owner believes that vaccines are unsafe, ineffective, and part of a conspiracy to harm the citizens of the world in the name of profit.

Vaccine Liberation Army. “KXYL.COM Idaho News Broadcast: Vaccines Causes SIDS.” http://vaccineliberationarmy.com/kxyl-com-idaho-news-broadcast-vaccines-causes-sids/. July 11, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

An article that alleges that, because the rate of infant mortality starting declining in Japan in 1975, at the same time that people stopped vaccinating children under the age of 2, vaccines were to blame for the previous higher rate of infant mortality. This conclusion is based simply on a statistical correlation, not on any proof of causation.

Vaccine Liberation Army is an anti-vaccination site dedicated to disseminating information critical of vaccines.

Vaccination Risk Awareness Network. “Vaccination: The Basics…” http://vran.org/about-vaccines/vaccine-essentials/vaccination-the-basics/. June 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

A piece that alleges that vaccines a) are responsible for increases in autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, bipolar disorder, ear infections, allergies, eczema, asthma, obesity, and diabetes amongst children, b) employ toxins that compromise the immune and neurological systems of children c) cause more deaths than they prevent. Moreover, the article asserts that vaccine efficacy has never been proven, despite drastic decreases in devastating illnesses since the introduction of vaccines. Instead of vaccines, the author states, people should rely on “natural” immunity derived from breastmilk and the illnesses themselves, and boost their immune systems through good nutrition, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and having a supportive family.

The Vaccination Risk Awareness Network provides information about what it considers the risks of vaccination and offers information about natural foods and remedies.

Van Honk, Jack, Dennis J. Schuter, Peter A. Bos, Anne-Will Kruijt, Eef G. Lentjes, and Simon Baron-Cohen. “Testosterone administration impairs cognitive empathy in women depending on second-to-fourth digit ratio.” PNASEarly Edition 108, no. 8 (February 22, 2011): 3448-3452. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1011891108.

A study in which the researchers administer testosterone to 16 women and chart its effect on cognitive empathy. The authors found that the women’s performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) was inversely proportional to testosterone levels. However, the main flaw of the study is that the RMET privileges the role of gaze in cognitive empathy, and the study does not measure whether people with increased levels of testosterone arrive at an understanding of the mental states of others through other means (such as vocal tones, gestures, and language).

The authors of this study are past and present researchers in the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.

VaxTruth. “When 1 in 88 is Really 1 in 29.” http://vaxtruth.org/2012/04/when-1-in-88-is-really-1-in-29/. April 2, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

An absolutely absurd article that posits that autism is alternately caused by vaccines, environmental toxins, and mercury, and that, extrapolating from rates of increased diagnosis, the autism rate will be 1 in 9 by 2022. Along with its representation of autism as a disease mainly of the industrial northern US, the article describes autistic people as a financial burden on society about which people should panic.

VaxTruth is an anti-vaccination site that continues to support the discredited theory that vaccines cause autism.

Vehmas, Simo. “Dimensions of Disability.” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 13 (2004): 34-40. doi: 10.1017/S0963180104131071.

A thought-provoking article that looks at disability, from the standpoint of moral philosophy, as a medical, social, and ethical issue. Vehmas does a very good job of elucidating the various models of disability that scholars, medical professionals, activists, and laypeople have developed. He begins by discussing the “individualistic” models of disability, which include a) the “moral model of disability,” an approach that sees disability as the result of a person’s moral flaws or the parents’ moral failures; b) the “medical model of disability,” an approach that views disability as a purely individual question of bodily impairment; and c) the “intersubjective model of disability,” an approach that posits a disability identity as a subjective experience that derives from the individual’s relationship with others in a social context. Next, Vehmas discusses the “social” models of disability, which include a) the “social creationist view of disability,” an approach originating in the UK that holds that disability is a result of a lack of social and architectural access, and that disabled people are an oppressed minority; b) the “social constructionist perspective to disability,” an approach that foregrounds the ways in which language, representation, and social attitudes create disability; and c) the “postmodernist perspective,” an approach based on a critique of scientific knowledge and its claims to objectivity. The author concludes by suggesting an “ethical” model of disability, which involves an analysis of the ways in which society prevents individuals from maintaining their well-being and reaching their full potential.

Simo Vehmas is a professor of Special Education at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and currently serves as the president of the Nordic Network on Disability Research.

Wakefield, Andrew J. Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines — The Truth Behind a Tragedy. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2010.

A book by discredited researcher Andrew Wakefield, who lost his medical license after publicizing a fraudulent study that wrongly linked the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. In this book, Wakefield justifies himself, taking aim at the medical establishment, pharmaceutical companies and the government, alleging that all three are corrupt and part of a conspiracy to silence dissent about vaccines.

Wendell, Susan. “Feminism, Disability, and Transcendence of the Body.” Canadian Women’s Studies 13, no. 4 (1993): 116-122. https://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/cws/article/viewFile/10302/9391.

In this wonderful article, the author takes feminist theorists to task for excluding the disabled body from consideration in their work. Wendell begins by discussing the feminist critique of western culture’s insistence on transcending the body in favor of the mind, and points out that feminist theorists have not considered an alternative explanation for why a person might want to find bodily transcendence: to find ways to be happy and productive in a body that is sick or in pain. She then argues that feminist theory falls short in its assumption that overcoming patriarchal oppression will result in healthy, joyful bodies, and that this assumption excludes disabled feminists. This exclusion is particularly apparent in post-modernist circles, in which the body is seen as entirely a linguistic and cultural construct; the result is that the physical experience of the body lies outside the theoretical framework. Wendell goes on to describe her own experience of learning to live within the limitations of her body and transcend her experience of pain after being diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). Her experience is a powerful reminder that disabled people have a great deal to teach able-bodied feminists about how human beings experience embodiment.

Susan Wendell is a professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University, where she specializes in feminist theory, feminist epistemology, and the subject of women and disability.

Wendell, Susan. The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability. New York, NY: Routledge, 1996.

An outstanding book in which the author analyzes the way in which culture helps to socially construct disability by means of representation, myths about control, and a belief in the power of science to cure all ills. Wendell breaks down he ways in which the culture creates disability by assigning it to four processes: mainstream cultural representations that make absent the ways in which people experience disability; the proliferation of stereotypes about people with disabilities; the stigmatization of physical and mental difference; and the ways in which the culture assigns symbolic meanings to certain types of illnesses and disabilities, such as the association of Chronic Fatigue Immunodeficiency Syndrome (CFIDS) with upwardly mobile “yuppies” and a culture of overwork. She then goes on to critique Goffman’s analysis of stigma, and offers the concepts of “othering” and “difference” to better explain how disability is socially constructed. Finally, she does an excellent of job of analyzing the pervasiveness of the “myth of control” — the notion that we can control our bodies and protect them indefinitely from illness, disability, and death — and the ways in which disabled people become stigmatized and discriminated against for being an affront to this myth and to the medical profession that embraces it.

Susan Wendell is a professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University, where she specializes in feminist theory, feminist epistemology, and the subject of women and disability.

Williams, Patricia. Seeing a Color-Blind Future: The Paradox of Race. New York, NY: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1997.

In this excellent series of five lectures, Williams engages the paradox of our cultural insistence that color does not matter in a world in which the construction of race has everything to do with the social, political, and economic experiences of people of color. Throughout the book, Williams explores the issue of sight — of seeing and not seeing, of visibility and invisibility, of staring and ignorance — with regard to race relations. As I meditated on Williams’ words about the social construct and experience of race, I was struck by the parallels to the social construct and experience of disability. While Williams does not include disability as a category of critical analysis, and while it would be appropriative suggest that the experiences of race and disability are exactly the same, it is fair to say that similar issues come into play: the call to seeing the person, not the physical difference; the ways in which minority status is visible for critique, while the perspective of the majority becomes “natural” and fades into the background; the imperative to “pass”; the invitation to speak to one’s minority experience only for the benefit of those in the majority; the experience of being stared at but not seen clearly; and the necessity of battling against “scientific” views that have little do with lived experience. Unfortunately, while Williams protests the ways in which people use one form of prejudice to argue against another, her analysis is marred by the use of pejorative disability metaphors when making her arguments against the insidious nature of racism.

Patricia J. Williams is a professor of law at Columbia University and the author of the column “Diary of a Mad Law Professor” for The Nation. Williams is a prolific writer who has spent over 20 years tackling questions of social justice, race, ethnicity, class, and gender.

Wilson, James C. “Disability and the Human Genome.” In The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, 266-273. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

A very informative piece about the ethical and social consequences of genomics for disabled people. The author does an excellent job of explaining the ways in which the human genome is represented as a text with disability as an error to be corrected, and he very carefully outlines the ways in which this conception reinforces social stigma for disabled people. According to Wilson and to the sources he cites, the entire concept of the human genome is a construct that attempts to make normative a static, statistical composite of a world of diverse, ever-changing human genomes; the result is that any deviance from this arbitrarily constructed fiction becomes stigmatized as abnormal. When the resources of a society are directed toward wiping out human variation, he notes, there is very little political or social will for accommodating human diversity.

James C. Wilson is a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. In addition to a number of articles on disability, he has written Weather Reports from the Autism Front: A Father’s Memoir of His Autistic Son and co-edited Embodied Rhetorics: Disability in Language and Culture.

Yazar-Klosinski, Berra. “Request for Proposals Description, MDMA/Autism RFP.” http://www.maps.org/research/mdma/Autism_RFP_14Oct11.pdf. October 14, 2011. Accessed December 31, 2011.

A Request for Proposals Description (RPD) for a clinical study to explore the use of MDMA (Ecstasy) in psychotherapy with autistic adults on the basis that it might be a) an empathogen and b) a treatment for anxiety. Of course, the Request is based on the assumption that autistic people lack empathy and that their anxiety should be treated by pharmaceutical means, rather than by creating non-aversive environments and promoting greater acceptance. One shudders to consider the impact of MDMA-based therapy on anyone, but particularly on autistic adults with extreme sensory and empathic sensitivities.

Berra Yazar-Klosinski is the Lead Clinical Research Associate at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

Yoshihara, Mari. “Tackling the Contested Categories: Culture, Race, and Nation in American Women’s History.” Journal of Women’s History 15, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 164-166. doi: 10.1353/jowh.2003.0040.

A short article in which the author discusses her ideas for the future of transnational research in gender studies. Yoshihara outlines the transnational perspectives that inform current work in the field, including studies that a) compare women’s movements in Europe and the United States, b) explore the ways in which women in countries outside the United States have shaped American feminism for use in their own cultures, and c) focus on the ways in which imperialism has shaped American feminism. She hopes that, as the field evolves, historians will carry out comparative analyses of women’s history and feminism around the world. These kinds of analyses hold much promise for creating a gender studies framework that will draw on an ever-greater multiplicity of global voices.

Mari Yoshihara is a professor of American Studies at the University of Hawaii, where her work includes research in Asian-American studies and gender studies. She holds a PhD in American Civilization from Brown University.

YouTube. “Profile of a Pertussis Vaccine Injury.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e43I2F9PY2M. October 24, 2011. Accessed December 2, 2012.

An hour-long video in which the parents and grandmother of a disabled child talk about her disabilities and their belief that they were caused by a pertussis vaccination that she received at 15 months of age. The video was produced by Barbara Loe Fisher, the President of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), an anti-vaccine organization.

YouTube. “Should I Vaccinate? (Ask Teal Episode on Vaccines and Vaccination).” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfIib1qr9n0. November 10, 2012. Accessed Decemebr 2, 2012.

A video in which the narrator asserts that vaccines cause injury, that they are manufactured for profit, and that they interfere with the body’s “natural” ability to resist infection. The narrator and producer of the video calls herself “Teal” and describes herself as a “medical intuitive.”

YouTube. “The Truth About Polio Vaccinations.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63m0IlkfPck. June 7, 2012. Accessed December 2, 2012.

A video in which the narrator makes the absurd allegations that polio had already been in decline before the Salk vaccine was introduced, that the polio vaccine caused the rate of polio to double, that polio vaccines cause non-Hodgkins lymphoma and brain, bone, and lung cancer. The narrator and producer of the video is Raymond Francis, who has a master’s degree in science and is the chairman and CEO of an organization called Beyond Health, which markets natural remedies and supplements.

Zola, Irving Kenneth. “Depictions of disability: metaphor, message, and medium in the media: A research and political agenda.” The Social Science Journal 22, no. 4 (1985): 5-17.

An excellent article in which the author examines the ways in which a) disability is used as a metaphor in popular media, b) the lives of disabled people are represented, and c) visual and print media lend themselves to depicting life with a disability. Zola begins by noting that disability is often synonymous with such widely diverse attributes as innocence, victimization, suffering, and moral evil, and that it has ultimately become a metaphor of a kind of heroism that is about surviving the world, but not about changing it. He then goes on to show the ways in which disabled people are portrayed in film as heroes having the moral will to overcome their disabilities and become part of “normal” existence, but on television (often in medical dramas) as victims who are impotent, dependent, bitter, narcissistic, and impatient, without intimate relationships and without work.

In looking at the possibilities for different types of media, Zola makes the observation that print media is generally a better venue for realistic depictions of disability than visual media, because there is extended time to describe the nature of disabled people’s lives. In TV or film, Zola argues, the format creates time constraints that lead to over-dramatization and unambiguous endings. However, he also finds that visual representations create the most visceral impact, so the question becomes how to use visual media to create realistic depictions. I’m not sure I agree that the time constraints of TV and film inevitably pose a problem; I think the problem has more to do with the perspective of the people using visual representations, and with what they can sell to a mainstream audience.

Irving Kenneth Zola was a professor in the Department of Sociology at Brandeis University, as well as an activist and writer specializing in disability rights and the sociology of disability. He was one of the founders of the Society for Disability Studies and was the first person to serve as the editor of the Disability Studies Quarterly. He was the author of several books, including Missing Pieces: A Chronicle of Living With a Disability, Ordinary Lives: Voices of Disability & Disease, and Socio-Medical Inquiries: Recollections, Reflections and Reconsiderations.

Zola, Irving Kenneth. “’Any distinguishing features?’ The portrayal of disability in the crime mystery genre.” Social Policy 17, no. 4 (Spring 1987): 34-39.

In this article, the author describes the ways in which disabled people are represented in crime mystery novels, and makes the observation that they are portrayed not only as the victims and the villains, but also as the heroes and the detectives who can use their disabilities as an asset in their work. Zola notes that when characters are represented with a disability, whether as the result of a congenital condition, injury, or illness, a gender difference emerges in the portrayals: disabilities in men, such as scarring, have a positive connotation as markers of strength and resilience, while in women, they constitute a threat to femininity and attractiveness. Moreover, the male characters tend to acquire disabilities as the result of work or heroic action, while women tend to become disabled as the result of assault. Finally, Zola notes, while disabled characters are common in crime mystery novels, little attention is paid to describing the appearance or behavior of people with disabilities in any detail, leaving the reader without a clear sense of how they use their assistive devices or navigate the world.

Irving Kenneth Zola was a professor in the Department of Sociology at Brandeis University, as well as an activist and writer specializing in disability rights and the sociology of disability. He was one of the founders of the Society for Disability Studies and was the first person to serve as the editor of the Disability Studies Quarterly. He was the author of several books, including Missing Pieces: A Chronicle of Living With a Disability, Ordinary Lives: Voices of Disability & Disease, and Socio-Medical Inquiries: Recollections, Reflections and Reconsiderations.

Zola, Irving Kenneth. “Self, identity and the naming question: Reflections on the language of disability.” Social Science and Medicine 36, no. 2 (1993): 167-173.

An article that discusses the question of how to modify the language we use to talk about disability. Zola points out that the problem of naming includes issues of both “connotation” and “generalization.” Words used to describe disability often have the connotations of helplessness, suffering, victimization, menace, and devaluation. Moreover, words used to describe disability become generalizations for all disabled people, with all disabilities, at all times, with the result that both disabled and nondisabled people see disability through a lens that creates distortions in self-image and perspective. After discussing different strategies for naming, Zola points out that disabled people have begun to reclaim words with pejorative meanings, such as “cripple,” and wonders whether the key to arriving at a new language may have less to do with coming up with new words, and more to do with coming up with different grammatical constructions. Along these lines, he suggests using person-first constructions (“person with disabilities” rather than “disabled person”), expressions of having rather than being (“I have a disability” rather than “I am disabled”), and the active voice in preference to the passive voice (“I use a wheelchair” rather than “I am confined to a wheelchair”). Zola concludes by noting that he is not arguing for purism in disability language, but wants to look at different contexts in which one form of disability language may be more strategic and effective than another.

Irving Kenneth Zola was a professor in the Department of Sociology at Brandeis University, as well as an activist and writer specializing in disability rights and the sociology of disability. He was one of the founders of the Society for Disability Studies and was the first person to serve as the editor of the Disability Studies Quarterly. He was the author of several books, including Missing Pieces: A Chronicle of Living With a Disability, Ordinary Lives: Voices of Disability & Disease, and Socio-Medical Inquiries: Recollections, Reflections and Reconsiderations.

© 2013 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg


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