Discourses of autism on film: an analysis of memorable images that create definition



Publication Details

Garner, A., Harwood, V. & Jones, S. C. (2016). Discourses of autism on film: an analysis of memorable images that create definition. In M. O'Reilly & J. Nina. Lester (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Adult Mental Health: Discourse and Conversation Studies (pp. 151-166). United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.


The characteristics that provide a platform for a categorical distinction between being 'disabled' and 'abled' is arguably dependent on the shared understanding and socially agreed upon ideas of a group of individuals. Collectively, groups derive meaning through communications and interactions with each other and their environment using particular language and common assumptions (Prawat & Floden, 1994; Rogoff, 1990). The intersubjectivity of the community aids in shaping personal meaning of their position in relation to another person's position. Some argue that the intersubjectivity, or shared understandIng, creates social meaning and knowledge of ability and disability which are socially constructed dichotomies, and that through the polarised construction people are positioned on one side or another of an apparent factually based line of difference (Kang, 2009; Scully, 2009; Titchkosky, 2003; Williams et al., Chapter 4, this volume). The construction and definition of disability arise through a variety of mediums including social, cultural, historical, and political discourses (Scully, 2009). As disability is constructed so to is the 'line of difference' that distinguishes the abled from the disabled. This line of difference is continuously constructed and reconstructed to coincide with changing cultural, political, and personal landscapes. These landscapes are constantly changing as a result of multiple influences including, although not limited to, gaining new information or exposure about a topic.

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