Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rhetoric and Autism

Question: How are rhetoric and autism alike?

Answer; They both involve social interaction.

Kenneth Burke: “…basic function of rhetoric [is] the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce actions in other human agents.”

Marc Fumaroli: “Rhetoric appears as the connective tissue peculiar to civil society and to its proper finalities.”

Gerald A. Hauser: “Rhetoric is communication that attempts to coordinate social action.”

Quote: “Though the definitions of autism are also legion, what they, too, have in common is a focus on language use in the social realm, a focus on communication in social interaction.”

“The National Institutes of Health define autism as ‘a spectrum that encompasses a wide range of behavior’ but whose ‘common features include impaired social interactions, impaired verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior.”

Likewise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, ‘Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities defined by significant impairments in social interaction and communication and the presence of unusual behaviors and interests.”

Comment: All of the above quotes can be found on page 487. What does “proper finalities” mean? What does “restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior” mean? What does “presence of unusual behaviors and interest” mean? What's the point of this article?

Other than that I have no comment except to refer readers to a book entitled Selling Sickness. RayS.

Title: “Autism and Rhetoric.” Paul Heliker and Melanie Yergeau. College English (May 2011), 485-497.

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