Reflections on Murray and Walker

When we met in class today, we briefly discussed Walker’s article on the definition of neuroqueer. We found it interesting how much of the definition was based on the verb form first. She compares this process to that of the transformation of the word queer from the verb to adjective form. Usually, when I think of the word queer, I think of it as an adjective, but it gives a lot of insight to know that the verb for came first. Walker says, “One can neuroqueer and one can be neuroqueer”, and she defines neuroqueering as actively subverting and defying neuronormative and heteronormative standards. It is a reminder that, not only is this a label one can give themself, but it is also a way of existing and shaping one’s own life.  

In skimming Murray’s book, I found the author’s approach to the medical versus social model of autism interesting. Some of the medical evidence, such as differently shaped brains, denser brain matter in certain regions, and functional differences seen on MRI point to the tangible differences that account for behaviors seen in autism. I also liked how Murray made it clear autism is not an epidemic as some people have been recently implying. Yes, the number of occurrences is increasing, but this is due in large part to the broadening of the definition of autism spectrum disorders and increasing awareness of the condition. However, referring back to the medical model, if a biological marker or gene connected to autism could be discovered, their diagnoses would not need to rely on the somewhat subjective questions asked by psychologists that are currently used as criteria for diagnosis. This would take the subconscious opinions of others out of the diagnosis. Moreover, the use of the word epidemic gives a strong negative, frightening connotation that should not be connected to autism. Finding a particular cause would also help lead to a cure, but Murray asserts a cure is not really necessary because autism does not come from a lack of function but an excess of it; it is the most true representation of humanness.

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