Voice of a Hero (Disability Articles)

Canberra Times
Asperger's Syndrome, 2007, n/a
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'DISABILITY These articles represent an original contribution to knowledge specifically in the public debate about disabilities. I used advanced journalism methods, including researched interviews and analysis of the available literature, in this case, representation of the experience of disability and its effect on families - in newspapers and broadcast media. Much of the journalism about disabilities focuses on negative experiences. People with disabilities are regularly represented as "the other" in the media and in society. My research also found that those who fight the system are labeled as troublemakers, or as greedy. The research question being addressed is: how do people with disabilities inform medical practitioners and who advocates for them about their disabilities? My interview with Mark Haddon, the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, marked the "mainstreaming" of autism in the media. After new statistics released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed an increase in those affected by autism spectrum disorders,my research asked the question: Can the current school system cater for students who have autism spectrum disorders? And how well can those students do? I also interviewed what those in the Danish School of Journalism call "consequence experts", those families who were able to assert their right to have their autistic children educated in the public system, to give them a voice in the debate. This research revealed families who were able to integrate autistic children into the public education system with minimal impact on the system and it also showed that parents given a range of options had agency which enabled them to make appropriate choices. My research also enabled a boy with Down Syndrome to have his case heard in the public sphere. These articles filled a gap in media representation.
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