Terministic screens and autism


First, my introduction:

My name is Veronica Petroelje, aka Roni. I am a junior double majoring in anthropological archaeology and English, with a museum studies minor. I plan on going into educational program design in museums. I love history and reading and interacting with people, especially kids. This semester, I hope to figure out my future more definitely, find a balance between schoolwork and other commitments and my two jobs and relaxing (yikes), and learn a lot from my classes, most of which are in fields that are entirely foreign to me.

And now, in response to: Think about Broderick’s essay in the context of Burke. In what ways do her “watershed rhetorical moments” function as terministic screens?

The word “recover,” as stated by Broderick, can be used to imply a number of things. For Lovaas, the autistic children in his study were considered to have recovered once they had reached the standard IQ range and could perform successfully in a public school first grade class. Maurice’s definition is not succinctly stated, but she obviously did have a personal definition, which her child reached through the ABA treatment. For the founders and members of Autism Speaks, recovery is desirable for every person with autism, and necessitates a scientific procedure or treatment. With all these people influencing the public, it is no wonder that the capricious treatments and supposed recovery seem to be the only option to parents or family members of autists. Once the idea of a cure has been introduced, it is difficult to accept a life with autism, regardless of what is in the best interest of the autist.

Anther distinction was drawn by the those supporting a cure between so-called “scientific” procedures and those referred to as superstitious, pseudoscience, charlatanism, and so forth. It is never expressly clear, however, what qualifies a treatment as scientific. Who decides its scientific quality? On what is is determined? What’s more interesting, however, is the power that word holds. Describing a treatment with the word “scientific” couples it professional research, white lab coats, and results. There is no need, therefore, to worry about the treatment being ineffectual or harmful. Anything based on scientific study must be safe.

So parents are left with the hope that the word “recovery” incites and the reassurance that “scientific” treatments provide, and are consequently unable to recognize the option of no treatment, just acceptance.


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