Diagnosis Day

My work focuses in part of shifting understandings of and experiences with disability diagnoses, so I was very excited to learn of this video, “The Extreme Parenting Project,” by Elizabeth Aquino.  ECheck it out:

I have been reading, writing, and thinking about diagnoses recently – perhaps even more than usual.  What a diagnosis means within a particular community (defined in various ways), what it does, how diagnoses shift, how they travel and translate.  It always brings me back to a scene from my preliminary research.  I was at a shelter for people with disabilities – a “good” and seemingly safe space, for the most part – and was having a wonderful conversation with the nun in charge.  She mentioned rising autism rates in Guatemala, which piqued my interest.  “Yes,” she told me, “we just had a specialist visit from your country and she said that 1 in 100 children have autism.  We just don’t know who they are yet.”  I paused.  I still pause when I recall this, wondering what it does when well-meaning professionals push children into the category of the day.  It is a classic anthropological moment in that, for me, the unfamiliar context served to cast a commonplace practice into high relief.

Diagnosis, response, “treatment,” experience, moment.  These are ripe areas for medical anthropologists and STS folks, among others.  Chloe Silverman has done some fantastic work on the modern history of autism, particularly knowledge claims surrounding the diagnosis.  For more, definitely check out her book Understanding Autism: Parents, Doctors, and the History of a Disorder.

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