Autism Spectrum Disorder in Popular Media: Storied Reflections of Societal Views

Maich, Kimberly and Belcher, Christina (2014) Autism Spectrum Disorder in Popular Media: Storied Reflections of Societal Views. Brock Education, 23 (2). pp. 97-115. ISSN 1183-1189

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This article explores how storied representations of characters with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are typified in a world that is increasingly influenced by popular media. Twenty commercially published children’s picture books, popular novels, mainstream television programs, and popular movies from 2006-2012 were selected using purposive, maximum variation sampling and analyzed through Krippendorff’s six-step approach to social content analysis. From this 20-unit sample, results show that television characters with ASD tend to be portrayed as intellectually stimulating geniuses who make us aspire to be like them; movies tend to show those with ASD as heroes, conquering seemingly impossible odds; novels tend to present ASD in a complex, authentic context of family and community, rife with everyday problems; picture books appear to be moving towards a clinical presentation of ASD. Common cross-categorical themes portray scientific, clinical, and/or savant-like traits that tend to glamourize challenges inherent to ASD.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 12738
Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder, popular media, perceptions, societal views
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 2014
Date Type: Publication
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