Category Archives: Passion


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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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Autism, Narrative, and Character Development

For this blog we were asked (to make it simpler rather than me screwing up the paraphrasing):

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?


Since I’m late posting this assignment, I wanted to post just a… I guess guidelines to writing about my character, who is actually a real human being. Here I asked his mother and brother to write about how they see DeAndre (who I mentioned in my first blog). I told them to write a brief biography and other things abut DeAndre. What they thought he would be like? What would be his likes and dislikes? And other questions like that.

So I only got a response from DeAndre’s mom (brother sucks, lol) and this is what she has to say:

  • DeAndre is a 5 year old little boy who was diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder. More specicifically he has a Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. In short it is ASD – PDD/NOS.

    DeAndre does not talk but he has ways of expressing his needs and wants. DeAndre is also a very happy little boy, he’s always showing his emotions whether happy or sad. He loves people and loves to smile and laugh. When he’s very happy he does what we call his “happy dance”, where he jumps up and down and move his feet, left and right. It makes you want to dance with him. He also loves to give hugs and kisses. He also has that other side where he expresses when he is upset or mad about something, he has temper tantrums.

    Because DeAndre loves music I think he would probably study music in college. He loves the guaitar and loves to mimic playing it. He has toy guaitars all over the place and hopefully when he able to comprehend a little more we can get him started in early guaitar lessons. He also loves to mimic singing in a microphone. He will use anything that stands and closely resembles a microphone to do his performances.

    At the rate he is going, with the love and support of family and friends as well as his teachers, doctors and therapist, I believe DeAndre will be able to overcome this disorder and live a fulfilling life. His future looks bright.

    I’ve decided when I actually get time from my way too busy life to catch back up, I will definitely come back to this assignment and write a real narrative.

    *I got this picture from LaBonita’s (DeAndre’s mother) Facebook page. Thank you for your help!!


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


Blog Carnival: Adults Gone Missing?

Theme: Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Where Art Thou? Are They Not As Important?

Blog 1:  

The autistic community tends to forget the adult aspect of the issue.  With so many advancements in technology, people tend to forget that they can help adults as well as children.  Yes, children are the focal point of today’s autism argument, but adults are in need and could benefit from this technology.


Blog #2:

Resources and knowledge is lacking when it comes to autistic adults.  Often times there are not many options when it comes to this often forgotten group.  It’s hard to help and properly care for these people when people don’t know how to.


Blog #3: 

Adults with autism often have a limited voice in today’s media.  This is due to the lack of knowledge and ignorance on how to approach the issue.  Often “experts” try to take the helm, but fall short since they more than likely don’t have the first hand experience.  If autistic adults are ever to be helped, then it is up to everyone to allow them to participate in discussions concerning them.


Blog #4:

Adults with disabilities remind those without disability. It reminds people that life is unpredictable and that anything can happen to anyone anytime at any place. Life can be cruel and this can tie into the fact that adults with autism are getting the end of the stick when it comes tom services and funding. Thankfully some parents think of the long term plan for their children and plan accordingly and supporting foundations that remember the adult diagnosed on the ASD.

Blog #5: 

The population of autistic adults is steadily growing.  It is up to the community at large to come up with proactive ways to help everyone cope with the various issues associated with this population. Committees and family involvement are two primary methods of helping. Whether it’s having meetings with everyone in the area, or tackling the issue head on, raising awareness is key to the success of individuals being able to accept and potentially remedy these issues

Blog #6:

 Guest post on Aspie Teacher’s blog by Michael Drejer talks about being employed and having Asperger’s syndrome. He explains how it is possible to get a job, and the pro’s and con’s that comes with it for the one with Asperger’s and for the companies that hire these disabled persons. He reminds people with autism that just because you may be disabled does not mean that you cannot have a job. Take advantaged of it and do what you can to live a great and successful life.

Blog #7:

Like the previous blog this blog talks about working and having autism. Tracey Daigneau, M.Ed., Director of Day Services at New England Village talks about how New England Village has created True Meaning Jewelry which promotes autism awareness as well as employs autistic individuals as well. This line of work gives these special individuals pride in what they do as well as who they are.

Blog #8: 

With taking care of autistic adult come a lot of hard times and well as easy times. Here a woman takes us through a day of her changing world when taking care of her 23 year son who is autistic.

Blog #9: 

 Another aspect that can be covered with respect to the issue of autistic adults is the factor of gender.  There is a tendency to pay closer attention to the needs of males over those of females.  Females with AS are atypical in their interactions than “normal” females especially in regards to the ages and genders that they typically interact with.  Seeing articles with an accurate portrayal of female autistic people are rare.


Blog #10: 

Jason Ross creator of Drive Mom Crazy writes about how he first coped with being diagnosed with autism and how he had to get into the community with a encouraging push from his mom. He talks about his life with autism and the many things he was able and still is achieving being diagnosed with Asperger’s.

Every last word used is IMPORTANT!


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)