Category Archives: grade performance


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Letter of Reflection

Dear Students of University of Michigan,

My name is Alexandria Spicer-McQueen and I am a fellow student here at the university. During Fall 2011 semester I enrolled in English 416: topics in disability cultures autism, culture, & representation, and in this class I learned so much about Autism Spectrum Disorder to say the least. We learned many different things from terministic screens to “curing” autism. Through this class I learned more about how everyone in this world is different, whether white or black “normal” or not “normal,” whether you are able-bodied or not, whatever the case is people are different and that shouldn’t be an excuse to ridicule, dislike someone or even treat them different.

The different things I learned about this disorder were fascinating. A lot of people are misinformed about autism and this class opened my eyes and see that I was one of those people that knew nothing about autism besides that it was a disorder that affected the brains of children and prevented them from learning and communicating. Boy was I wrong. I’ve learned that even if a child has autism doesn’t mean they’re mute to the world, and it doesn’t mean that they will never learn or communicate. I didn’t know this at all. Another thing I learned to pay attention to during this class was that children grow up. I never thought about adults with autism and now I do because my friend’s little brother has PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder—Not Otherwise Specified), and I’ve always been curious about his disorder and how it will affect him when he grows older. The questions I have no answer to many people don’t as well and this class made me want to know more because I don’t think a lot of people like the unknown.

The final project for this class was to make a PSA and I chose to focus my PSA towards the student body because as college students there is so much that we do everyday we don’t really get to do anything outside of class work in the context of learning about new things own our own leisure. So I made up a student group named after my business and WordPress blog Black Circus, and made some events up to inform and educate students on Autism Spectrum Disorder. My goals for this sort of PSA is to get students to become involved in the cause and be aware of the things in this world because no one knows if their future child or children will have autism, so this is a way to become prepared to face that chance.

The one thing I learned about autism while doing my PSA was how easy it is to put together something like this and share it. All one has to do is put it out there and be committed and with my PSA I bring different options of learning about autism that I feel is very affective. I bring forth two informationals and movie nights and an interactive learning trip with a school for autistic students. All these events bring forth something different so my audience can participate and stay active and smile the whole way through these events.

Thank you for listening to what I had to say and I encourage you to come to these events and become aware of autism.





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Terministic Screens and the Realities they Create



My name is Alexandria Spicer-McQueen and I am a senior graduating in December 2011, studying English at the University of Michigan. My plan for my future when I graduate is to become a journalist for Essence Magazine. I enjoy all forms of art with a deep passion because it’s not just about your craft, but the passion others put into their craft as well. There’s something about watching someone do art that makes me think, “Wow, can you feel that emotion? That is what I live for.” Also, I plan on publishing my book of poetry and continuing to write what I feel because I am art.


Think about Broderick’s essay in the context of Burke. In what ways do her “watershed rhetorical moments” function as terministic screens? That is, what sorts of realities are created by the language of science, the language of parenting, the language of recovery, and so forth? What do these representations of autism allow us to see, and what do these representations prevent us from seeing?


When it comes to relating these two articles, the answer is almost in the question itself. Boderick’s “watershed rhetorical moments” function as a terministic screen. For example Lovaa’s use of the word “recovery.” This acts as a terministic screen because he and what actually exist in terms of recovery by society already define it. “The operational definition of best outcome in the Lovaas (1987) study was defined as participants achieving “normal-range IQ scores and successful first grade performance in public schools” (p. 3) and in society we know or was lead/brought up to believe there’s requirements for being “normal.” Therefore this word “recovery” acts as a terministic screen for “normalcy.”

The realities it creates is for the parents. Parents with children on the autism spectrum desire for their child to have a normal life and more than likely experience the things that having a normal life can give them; to enjoy different discoveries and so forth. Scientific language creates realities in the form of giving parents hope for “recovery” for their child. People are very interested in science when it proves there is a possibility or direct relation to the lives of people. So when science puts out that there may be a chance your autistic child can began to live a normal life with some practice, parents may and will jump to the opportunity.

I believe that these representations of autism can create a sense of hope as well as a false sense of hope. “Recovery” to any parent for their child can be a great opportunity because like stated earlier it gives their child a chance at having and understanding so many things in life and with almost half (47%) of Lovaa’s treatment group were on the “best outcome” ranking. Though treatment can be a positive experience what about the false hope it can bring? When I think of this false hope I think about the children that the treatment does not “cure.” The emotions that the parents may have once it does not work, the sadness and pain that they will experience for their child because of this failed attempt. Parents may even blame themselves for failure of treatment. It can prove upsetting.

“Even if any given terminology is a reflection of reality, by its very nature as a terminology it must be a selection of reality; and to this extent, it must also function as a deflection of reality.” (Burke 45)