Autism, the social construction of disability, and the rejection of cultural stereotypes
Kwang, Qi Qi
Date of Issue2017-04-21
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Disabled individuals are often disempowered and steered clear of, as the average, able-bodied person, “feels sorry for [a] disabled person, feels awkward about relating to the person, believes that the government or charity should provide special services, and gives thanks for not being disabled” (Davis 2). The image of a disabled person is therefore, inferior and one that the mainstream normative should shun away from. With this, the binaries that are instituted between the disabled and the able-bodied; the normal and the abnormal are clearly seen. The disabled are “defined in opposition to a norm that is assumed to possess natural physical superiority” (Thomson 19), which often leads to the marginalisation and oppression of the disabled minority by the dominant able-bodied majority. Susan Wendell, in “Toward a Feminist Theory of Disability”, asserts that the “able-bodied fail to identify with the disabled” because “[s]uffering caused by the body, and the inability to control the body, are despised, pitied, and above all, feared. This fear, experienced individually, is also deeply embedded in our culture” (248). The mainstream society’s fear of becoming disabled and losing control is seen in their refusal to confront pain, suffering and the image of the broken body. These fears are subsequently projected upon disabled individuals by marginalising them. Through this, the able-bodied are able to gain superiority and position themselves as a community that are unlike the disabled individuals. Drawing from the field of disability studies, and specifically the social model of disability, this paper posits that it is not disability itself that limits the disabled individual, but society’s perceptions of the disabled that constrains them.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University