The reasons behind the increase in autism diagnoses have become hotly contested in the media as well as within the medical, scholarly, and autistic communities. In Autism and Gender: From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks, Jordynn Jack focuses on the ways gender influences popular discussion and understanding of autism's causes and effects. She identifies gendered theories like the â€œrefrigerator motherâ€ theory, for example, which blames emotionally distant mothers for autism, and the â€œextreme male brainâ€ theory, which links autism to the modes of systematic thinking found in male computer geeks. Jack's analysis reveals how people employ highly gendered theories to craft rhetorical narratives around stock characters--fix-it dads, heroic mother warriors rescuing children from autism--that advocate for ends beyond the story itself while also allowing the storyteller to gain authority, understand the disorder, and take part in debates. The first book to look at how gender informs popular discussion about autism, Autism and Gender also offers new insights into the ways rhetorical inquiry can and does contribute to conversations about gender and disability.
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