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ERIC Number: ED516887
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 188
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1097-4167-4
Narrative Representations of Asperger's Syndrome
O'Connell, Julie
ProQuest LLC, D.Litt. Dissertation, Drew University
This discussion focuses on literary works written by individuals with Asperger's Syndrome (AS), a Pervasive Developmental Disorder that causes severe impairment in social development. Individuals with AS have trouble understanding their own emotions as well as the feelings of others; they are not able to read social cues and facial expressions; they have difficulty handling change of any kind; they have speech, language, and non-verbal communication problems; and they struggle with repetitive behaviors and obsessions, sensory integration, motor skills, and eye contact. Many writers who have AS recount these challenges and their often difficult social journeys in a "neurotypical" world that does not understand them. An analysis of poetry and memoirs written by individuals with AS will not only demonstrate how these individuals articulate their ongoing challenges but will also stand in contrast to the literary depictions of individuals with AS in novels by writers who do not have the disorder. A program of therapeutic creative writing for individuals with AS will be proposed in an effort to help future writers better understand themselves. Initially, I describe the history of the diagnosis and the difficulties individuals with AS face when it comes to learning, motor skills, sensory integration, and social deficits. Then, I present the theoretical lenses I use to look at the AS literature. Specifically, I discuss Theory of Mind as being significant when discussing poetry; cultural criticism as being a relevant lens for looking at memoir; and post colonialism as being an innovative way to conceive of the novels written about characters with AS. The subsequent chapters fall into genre categories of poetry, memoirs, and novels. The writers share powerful expressions of their inner struggles, and their texts not only allow them to break out from their worlds of isolation, but they also educate us about AS. Thus, my analytical review describes how AS affects literary expression and how it is being depicted in contemporary fiction. The final chapter further unravels the notion of Theory of Mind and presents a curriculum to help individuals with AS expand their abilities in this area. Three research questions guide my efforts to draw connections between Theory of Mind and creative writing: Can Theory of Mind be taught? To what extent can it be taught using creative writing? And what would a creative writing curriculum that fosters Theory of Mind development in young adults with AS look like? The dissertation culminates in a proposed college curriculum that suggests readings and writing activities for a fifteen week workshop entitled "Theory of Mind in Literature: A Reading and Writing Experience." My project highlights the importance of responding to this emerging body of literature. Not only do these works perform a function for their authors, but they also make a larger contribution to literature in general. The study is significant in that it describes the current AS works and proposes a curriculum to help encourage future writers to tell their stories through a variety of genres. This dissertation has started the process of making individuals with AS more visible and better understood. Furthermore, the proposed curriculum describes a vehicle by which future voices can be cultivated. Ultimately, it is my hope that this project will lead to better communication with and more compassionate treatment of all individuals who are different. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A