“Infantilizing Autism”- what’s it all about

in·fan·til·ize: to reduce to an infantile state or position. So what does it mean to infantilize something like autism?

The face of autism is a child’s face. Adults who have autism are strangely underrepresented in the media, and therefore seem to be left in the shadows.

No grown adult likes to be treated like a child. So what comes of these hidden adult faces of autism? In the article “Infantilizing Autism”, by  Stevenson et al., she explores the representation of autism by looking at four domains: the chapters of The Autism Society of America, charitable organizations, popular media (books/movies), and news articles. In all four domains, the researchers found that discourse on autism was child centered, which contributes to a popular understanding of Autism with a infantilized identity.  The research also found that the only adults represented on the websites (less than 5%), were parent perspectives rather than autistic perspectives.

It was interesting to look at the research and information that supported the underrepresentation of adult autists in the media and public sphere. It made me aware of the possible effects that the media, news, and websites have on my perception of different issues beyond autism, and what types of things can be twisted and warped through seemingly harmless images that takes prevalence with an issue. It is something that I will definitly keep in mind.


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