Category Archives: normalcy


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His World Became Mine… A Story by Alexandria S-McQueen

Well, I’m back and this time I’m going back to an old post I did called “Autism, Narrative, and Character Development” that I didn’t really complete. I sort of just posted an outline of what I wanted to write down. Just to remind you of the assignment prompt:

For this blog post, we’d like you to write an introduction (approx. 150-250 words) to your own Autistic character. You can compose this introduction in whatever form seems most fitting — an intro paragraph, a short scene, or dialogue. Then, in the remainder of your blog post, please reflect on this process (approx. 100-200 words). What about this was challenging? Easy? What ethical principles guided your representation? If you had more time or space to develop your character, what would you do or say? How did our class readings (especially Curious Incident) influence your character?

SO finally here it is…

As sound waves travel throughout the house to my ears, I roll over to the sun and smile. I think he’s trying to be the next Jimi Hendrix, and hopefully without the tragic ending. He’s always up earlier than me in the spring and summer. He lives for each day; you can see it in his eyes every time he sings into his little microphone. He knows all the latest hits from Maroon five to Lady Gaga. He is such a little music stud. He’s always so happy. I mean he loves to small and laugh. He even does this happy dance where he jumps up and down and move his feet from left to right. He has his bad days too. He usually has temper tantrums those days. I get up out the bed and head towards his room. When I open the door, he stops and looks at me. He smiles and waves. That is enough, it’s all I need to know that he loves me. I hear a loud bang noise and I rush upstairs to find out what happened. DeAndre was lying n the floor crying. He had broken his guitar by slamming it on the ground. I told him that he can’t do what Kid Rock does on the TV because it’s not good for the guitar, but he doesn’t understand that. After I said that, I could tell today will be a bad day for him. I wipe he’s tears and carry him off downstairs for breakfast.

“He has what we call Pervasive Developmental Diorder-Not Otherwise Specified. In short he is autistic and had PDD-NOS,” the doctor told me. Of course I didn’t understand then but now I know more about the disorder. Of course I thought the bad things that parents usually think when they find out their child isn’t normal or won’t be able to do the things regular kids do, but I got over that quick. I had to deal with it rather quickly because everyday he was growing up and doing different things.I had no time to be sad though I do get that way sometimes. What I feel isn’t important; it’s him who is important. I had to become an expert of my child and that’s what I did and everyday I’m still learning something new. I couldn’t ask for a better child.


The thing most challenging about this was that I don’t have a child that is on the spectrum and I’m writing from the point of view of a parent, a mother no less that I know. I know this little boy and I’ve come to love him so it was really difficult to create something like this. Luckily I had help in writing about DeAndre from his mother and I used most of her description of DeAndre for this introduction.  If I were to continue the story I honestly don’t know where I would go with the story maybe input more interactions with family and friends and new people, but really I can’t say for sure because it’s hard to write about something that I don’t experience everyday so I just feel inadequate to write about it. I didn’t think of any of the readings for this introduction I purely just came up with a scenario and went with it and I like it.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Alexandria Spicer-McQueen

Hi DeAndre


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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Switching Roles: Mother to Daughter

This was an assignment we were asked to do:

Begin crafting your own fictional narrative about parenting. You can compose this narrative in whatever form seems most fitting — an intro paragraph, a short scene, or dialogue. Then, in the remainder of your blog post, please reflect on this process (approx. 100-200 words). What about this was challenging? Easy? What ethical principles guided your representation? If you had more time or space to develop your character, what would you do or say? How did our class readings (especially Sinclair, Murphy, and Sicile-Kira) influence your character?

Switching Roles: Mother to Daughter

16 hours, 6 minutes and 6 seconds… that’s how long it took for my daughter Madison Savannah Lewis to arrive in this world. It took forever for her to come, but when she did I knew that she was going to be everything to me for the rest of my life. Madison was a bright child. She was always laughing and smiling. She didn’t cry a lot and I was thankful for that especially. My partner and I knew that this little life we brought into the world was going to be special and go many places.

When Madison turned two years old, we noticed she wasn’t doing a certain things babies her age were suppose to be doing. At first we thought we were just new to parenting and really you can’t predict when your child will do something. However, when Madison turned four we knew something was wrong. She hadn’t started walking a lot instead she would stay seated and wave her hands in the air for us to pick her up. And what I thought was her being just a quiet child, she was just not talking at all. There was no way she was ready for kindergarten.

We found out that Madison was autistic. She has PDD-NOS. We were shocked. We didn’t know much about the autism spectrum, and I fell immediately into a deep depression. How could this happen to us? After all the things my partner and I went through just for being gay, now we have an autistic child who will get judged as soon as anyone sees him. I didn’t want that for Madison. I didn’t want that at all.

What about this was challenging? Easy? What ethical principles guided your representation? If you had more time or space to develop your character, what would you do or say? How did our class readings (especially Sinclair, Murphy, and Sicile-Kira) influence your character?

The thing most challenging about writing this introduction was creating a scenario where I would have to make the parent think that autism was a tragedy. Studying autism has opened my eyes and I never thought of it as a tragedy or horrible thing. So writing as a parent and her first reaction to her autistic child was a little hard. If I had more time I would continue to the end of the first chapter in this story where we learn more of the mom’s first thoughts and how life changed for them all. The reading “Don’t Mourn For Us,” by Jim Sinclair influenced me a lot because if I continued the story all the way through Madison’s mom would go through the struggle of not having a normal child to accepting and realizing that her child is normal but different.


Something I came across on FB via Youtube… Truly Inspiring!


Where We Fit in this World: Group Activity (response to Burke & Broderick)

Part 1: Positioning Ourselves

  • 1. What terministic screens are we encountering? What do they filter in, and what do they filter out? What do they enable us to do and understand—and what do they prevent us from doing and understanding?
  • Almost every term we encounter has a positive and negative factor or effect just like terminisitic screens. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we agree with them.
  • 2. How should we deal?
  • Look at these terms and associate them with autism
  • 3. Did Broderick give you more of a perspective on Chew & Raymaker’s “10 Controversies”?
  • It makes us realize how that the cure and recovery from autism is not desirable.
  • 4. Who are these authors? How do their subject positions affect what they’re saying (or authoring)? Do their positions enhance their credibility, detract from it, etc.? To whom, do you think, are they writing? Who might benefit from what they’re saying?
  • These authors range from a teacher to scientist and because they actually have probably put years into their studies it really doesn’t affect what they’re saying unless it was someone who hasn’t took the time to research what they’re talking about (for instance a student with only a semester of research). The authors position can affect their credibility a little but not so much in some cases. We might listen more to a scientist of autism studies than a teacher, but it really matters about the time that one puts into their work.

Part 2: Finding Fictions

  • 1. What metaphors, fictions, or untruths does pop culture use to understand or represent not only autism, but other forms of neurological difference?) E.g., “intellectual disability,” “mental illness,” “learning disabilities,” etc?)
  • Illness as a metaphor in definition is physical but we apply that to the mental state. Like if someone is hurting themselves that’s an illness or if someone is isolated it is believed that they are unhappy whereas that may not be the case.

Part 3: Screens and Charting

  • 1. What does recovery mean?
  • Return to something that you were never at to begin with
  • Retaining something that you lost.
  • 2. What does intervention mean?
  • To come, appear or lie between two things
  • To involve oneself in a situation so as to alter or hinder an action or development
  • When one thinks about intervening they’re thinking that they can better the situation; doing something that another could not do
  • 3. What does acceptance mean?
  • The action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered
  • To affirm something as it is and as a whole
  • 4. How are these things dissimilar?
  • It’s self explanatory almost. If you accept something as it is there really is no just cause to intervene. As for recovery, it depends on who needs to recover especially in a situation with autism.
  • What can and do theses concepts mean, both medically and culturally?
  • Medically: When it comes to science things are more complicated because usually science looks at things as problems that need to be solved and in the autism world words are very sensitive just like any other culture and it’s really not the medical world’s concern because they have an objective.
  • Culturally: When it comes to culture people’s feelings and emotions are taken into consideration. It becomes a world of parents, autistics of all ages and allies. It’s a world where people are respected, etc. It’s more personal; it connects more intimately.
  • 5. Do these concepts compete or overlap?
  • Yes because when you want someone to recover you intervene and when you intervene you either are accepting or not accepting the situation.
Chew & Raymaker Article “10 Autism Controversies”

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)