Seeing the Spectrum

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A. Understand and Apply

Our understanding of autism had advanced in ways that are both good and bad – on one hand, we now know enough about autism to be able to put a name to the symptoms and to recognize it as a genuine condition; on the other hand, the medical terminology has been adopted so much by non-professionals, that the spectrum has been stretched to its breaking limit. As we learn more about different symptoms and signs of autism, we open the term up to be applied very liberally to symptoms which might not be a part of autism at all. So, while I do think the last fifty years have been very good to autism in learning more about early signs and possible support for it, I do think that it also opened up children to being diagnosed with it when, in reality, they may just have certain behavior ticks or eccentric elements to them that do not need medical diagnosis. The more we study autism, the more careful we have to be with diagnosing it and medicating for it.

B. Analyze and Evaluate

I think that there are profit incentives for educating kids, and that the big pharmaceutical companies would benefit from the increased medication, but I think that Foucault would be twisting the argument to make a point. Much more important than the profit, I think, is that there would be an over-medication and over-diagnosis of autism just because it would allow parents/schools/society to put a name and a label to behavior that they otherwise couldn’t understand. I do agree that part of the over-medication would be a result of the pharmaceutical companies influence and power, but I also just think that the increased medication is more so a bi-product of society’s need to understand and identify human behavior. Maybe I am agreeing with Foucault more than it seems and I just don’t know it, but my only point is that I think the same over-medication and over-diagnosis would be happening even if there was no profit motive whatsoever and the pharmaceutical companies had nothing to do with it.

If that is what Foucault is saying, than I agree. If he is pretty much just placing the blame on profit and power, than I disagree. Those two things are a big part of it, but I would then argue that he is ignoring the fact that educators/parents like to be able to classify and group students under concepts and labels. That is something that has no profit motive at all, and is just a result of how people like to be able to understand the world around them.

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