Rewriting Normal: A Discourse Analysis of TEDx Speeches on Neurodiversity and Autism
Nearly 1 in 50 in the United States will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Dietz et al. 2020), while in Sweden, the statistics oscillate around 1.5% (Linnsand et al. 2021). Yet, not many are familiar with the concept of neurodiversity, an emerging social identity. The idea that mental disabilities may play a significant role in the development of the human race is not new but it does not gain enough attention from the general public. Because mental disabilities concern the brain, we feel a moral imperative to protect the well-being of the affected ones while simultaneously not giving credit to their own self-agency. However, this article presents the viewpoint on neurodiversity of three autistic women and by using Positive Discourse Analysis (PDA) examines the discursive strategies and main themes in three TEDx talks concerning autism. The results show that by nomination the autistic women advocated a redefinition of autism as an identity which gave them a sense of alternative normalcy. A two-fold depiction of autistic traits (features) as unique but also limiting shows the dichotomy in presenting struggles and challenges: on the one hand by mitigating their severity, and on the other by intensifying the hardships. Finally, by perspectivation they present their approach to the division into low and high-functioning autistic people and argue that this distinction is based on the neurotypical perception of ASD but has little to do with the severity of the syndrome one experiences. Finally, they argue that exposing non-stereotypical (female) traits can result in a delayed diagnosis.
How to Cite:
Sochacka, A.J., 2022. Rewriting Normal: A Discourse Analysis of TEDx Speeches on Neurodiversity and Autism. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 21(2), pp.166–194.
28 Dec 2022.