Discourses of Autism on Film: An Analysis of Memorable Images that Create Definition

  • Andrea Garner
  • Valerie Harwood
  • Sandra C. Jones


The characteristics that provide a platform for a categorical distinction between being ‘disabled’ and ‘abled’ is arguably dependent on the shared understanding and socially agreed upon ideas of a group of individuals. Collectively, groups derive meaning through communications and interactions with each other and their environment using particular language and common assumptions (Prawat & Floden, 1994; Rogoff, 1990). The intersubjectivity of the community aids in shaping personal meaning of their position in relation to another person’s position. Some argue that the intersubjectivity, or shared understanding, creates social meaning and knowledge of ability and disability which are socially constructed dichotomies, and that through the polarised construction people are positioned on one side or another of an apparent factually based line of difference (Kang, 2009; Scully, 2009; Titchkosky, 2003; Williams et al., Chapter 4, this volume). The construction and definition of disability arise through a variety of mediums including social, cultural, historical, and political discourses (Scully, 2009). As disability is constructed so to is the ‘line of difference’ that distinguishes the abled from the disabled. This line of difference is continuously constructed and reconstructed to coincide with changing cultural, political, and personal landscapes. These landscapes are constantly changing as a result of multiple influences including, although not limited to, gaining new information or exposure about a topic.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Autism Spectrum Condition Favourite Music Internet Movie Database Social Artefact 
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Recommended reading

  1. • Jones, S. C, & Harwood, V. (2009). Representations of autism in Australian print media. Disability & Society, 24(1), 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. • Murray, S. (2008). Hollywood and the fascination of autism. In M. Osteen (Ed.), Autism and representation (pp. 244–255). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Andrea Garner, Valerie Harwood, and Sandra C. Jones 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Garner
  • Valerie Harwood
  • Sandra C. Jones

There are no affiliations available

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