The wonderful team at Somatosphere just published my review essay on three recent – and quite important – books on disability themes. “When Risk, Doubt, and Difference Converge: A Review Essay”highlights some of the key themes and questions from Lennard Davis’ The End of Normal, Eula Biss’ On Immunity: An Inoculation, and Jordynn Jack’s Autism and Gender: From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks.
You can read the full essay here.
I was thrilled to have a piece published by The Mighty last week. My aim was to reach as many parents as possible with a few key strategies for helping their typically developing children who have siblings with disabilities. You can find the piece here:
5 Waysto Support Your Kids, From a Special Needs Sibling
(Disclaimer: I cannot stand the phrase “typical.” Alternatives welcome.)
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute a piece to Somatosphere’s series, The Ethnographic Case, edited by Drs. Emily Yates-Doerr and Christine Labuski. I love that site, the series editors were amazing to work with, and this exercise gave me a chance to think and write through a particular encounter that has haunted me since my early fieldwork in Central America.
In my piece, I revisit my single visit to one of the most abject spaces I have ever seen: a large “shelter” for people with disabilities in an anonymous Latin American city. I saw a little boy in a cage. Children far too big crammed into metal cots and speedily fed formula in bottles. Adults in straightjackets. And, in the case described in my recent piece, I met Maria, a blind indigenous woman who was abandoned as a child and ended up at the shelter, where she had been forced to live in isolation in a shed for years.
The spaces and scenes stuck with me. They were shocking, to be sure, but in thinking through them in terms of later fieldwork in the U.S. and elsewhere I realized that they weren’t the outliers – the isolated cases – I had originally assumed. They could not be written off so quickly.
Please take a few moments to read my piece, “The Enclosed Space.”
Here is the link to the paper I will present at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association.
Please do not use, cite, or copy without specific permission from me. Thank you!
I recently gave a talk on race, disability, and health disparities at the CEDD 2015 Cross-Systems Summit in Austin. In an effort to ensure that my work is accessible to multiple audiences, I am posting the PowerPoint here.
The presentation includes a detailed discussion of the social construction of disability and the current context of disability in the U.S., and offers a provocative review of recent research on disability, race, and health. I pay particular attention to health disparities for African Americans and Hispanics with Down syndrome, over an overview of racial disparities in diagnoses (including autism), and include a discussion of racial disparities in mental health care. I plan to expand on this presentation and welcome feedback.
Note that this presentation is not to be duplicated or distributed without my permission.
Some background for two papers I have in the works. The first is on the medicalization of childhood in the contemporary U.S. The second, mother-blaming. Stay tuned.
Symptoms of Possible Disorders in Children:
Appears to be shy
Likes to play by oneself
Prefers puzzles or televisions to stories
Spins in circles
Likes playing with trains or cars
Doesn’t like loud sounds
Does not always respond when name called
Does not always follow instructions
Needs to have instructions repeated
Trouble staying organized
Blurts out answers in class
Guesses when asked to solve a problem
On the go
Butts in on others’ conversations or games
If infant, has trouble falling or staying asleep
Difficulty expressing oneself if nervous or anxious
Dislikes brushing teeth
Bad at sports
Dislikes tags on clothing
Prefers one-on-one play to groups
Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Various Childhood Disorders:
Don’t smoke in the house
Don’t have an underweight baby
Don’t have a preterm birth
Don’t have a baby who has to stay in the NICU
Don’t have a baby who needs oxygen
Don’t drink or use drugs while pregnant
Read to your child
Talk to your child
Don’t abuse your child physically or emotionally
Buy organic mattresses
Don’t eat fish while pregnant
Eat lots of fish while pregnant
Sleep with your infant
Make sure our infant sleeps alone
Give your child ample time to develop at her own pace
Utilize early intervention services (ages 0-3)
Ensure ears are clear, get tubes if necessary
Do not expose to anesthesia, a potential cause of learning disabilities
Listen to your pediatrician
Ignore your pediatrician, use specialists instead
Depending on the disorder, consider altering the race/gender/class status of child and parents
Would you believe that the slots for StoryCorps interviews were filled in three minutes during last month’s registration? Wow!
Here’s so good news: due to unambiguous demand, StoryCorps has opened up additional interview times. People can sign up here Wednesday, January 7th at 10:00 a.m. Be warned, however, that these will likely go just as quickly as last time.
If you live in the Austin area and have a disability story to tell, please consider signing up!
As someone who spends much of my time examining how, why, and when social understandings of disability change, film is an obvious target. Movies have an unquestionable power to expose us to people we may not yet know – to archetypes, composites, or even real people with actual stories. I have found film to be particularly useful for reaching individuals who may not have (yet) had or taken the opportunity to probe fundamental, if often unasked, questions about disability. The only catch? Finding good films.
There is a critical need for more positive and accurate portrayals of disability in film in order to break through stereotypes, assumptions, and stigma. Luckily, disability film festivals by and for members of this community are increasingly common. There might even be a disability film event in your own community! Continue reading