Murray Asks Where Are the Autistic Adults?

Murray, particularly in chapter four, seems to be using the dropping out strategy from Gaipa’s list. He spends half of the chapter outlining how fiction writers are reinforcing the fears about an “epidemic of autism”. These fears stem from the general public framing autistic children as victims that need a cure, one that will only be found with increased awareness. He points out that these awareness raising charities often function under sentimentality. Murray even goes as far back in time as to refer to the pediatrician Asperger, and argues that the same hopelessness has existed for over fifty years. By referencing “experts” in literature, activism, and science, Murray is showing that the fear of lost children is what causes autistic celebrity (like Mukhopadhyay’s) to thrive. Murray is challenging this current narrative of an exceptional autistic child overcoming obstacles that mark his transition into being accepted as nuerotypical and even as an adult.

A big flaw that Murray points out with the prevalent obsession with autistic children in particular, is that it doesn’t consider what becomes of autistic adults. If the narrative is of a voiceless child, the child is no longer a victim once he gets his voice back, and that empowerment makes him an adult to a degree. Again, sentimentality is the cause of a false narrative, such as implying there is an end to autism and that it can be likened to moving from childhood into adulthood.

I would say the method used here is dropping out, and not taking on the establishment, only because Murray doesn’t disagree with the need for hope that such a narrative can give. He disagrees with the the fact that fear of the alternative, if these children are not saved, is what creates this problematic narrative. Instead, Murray reframes the entire conversation by focusing on Mukhopadhyay’s own words, for their content and subjectivity (not just as proof of his special ability) and letting Mukhopadhyay speak for himself. Murray believes that the writing proves that he is self-aware of his condition and that he can define himself, and make progress without claiming to have been cured.



122 Responses to “Murray Asks Where Are the Autistic Adults?”

  1.   Radheeka Sharma Says:

    I really liked your response and your analysis! I agree with you that Murray uses the strategy of dropping out in his essay. You make good points to back up your arguments on why that is the chosen strategy. I really liked how you highlighted the flaw Murray pointed out in your second paragraph. I feel that is a great example of dropping out.

  2.   Ikramullah Khan Says:

    You make some really interesting observations. I didn’t pick on the fact that a “cure” or end for autism was being compared to a child’s movement into adulthood. Murray uses the same strategy with Braggs and also with Williams. Your post was informative.

  3.   Chani Rubenstein Says:

    I love your approach to this paper! For someone who made such a big deal about the “lost adults”, Murray offered very little in the way of new research. I wonder how nice of a method this is. It feels a bit like dirty campaigning to me. I understand that writing isn’t about niceness, but at the same time, if you don’t have anything to add, is there any reason to actually say anything? I guess my question is: does Murray add anything to the conversation by bringing up the fact that nobody addresses adults with autism?

  4.   Asheka Lawrence-Reid Says:

    Hi Sumaria! Your post is very interesting. Your use of Gaipa’s strategy of dropping out to interpret Murry’s analysis of Mukhopadhyay is quite thought provoking. I had considered the function of sentimentality as a big part of Murry’s argument but I did not consider that he does not disagree with necessary hopefulness that this kind of narrative evokes. I also like your use of “subjectivity” because it shows how Murray redefines Mukhopadhyay as an individual rather than an object to be scrutinized. Thanks for the insight!

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