I am currently analyzing online spaces dedicated to issues of autism spectrum disorders. I am also including spaced created by and/or for individuals with ASDs.
This is a funded project, sponsored by my university, to help determine how we might design online courses to better accommodate students with special needs. It is a tedious process, but one that should pay dividends over the coming years as more students with diagnoses of HFA, AS, and PDD-NOS qualify for university admissions.
Though there are a great many sites dedicated to autism, the thing I still notice most is the "tribal" nature of the spaces. There are clear divisions within this small universe of individuals with ASDs, families, advocates, researchers, and so on. The tone of many sites is aggressive -- not at all inviting. I do understand how this has come to pass, but it is a shame.
Anyway, I'm concentrating more on design issues and accessibility than the rhetorical methods employed. At least design is my focus for now. Later, much later, I'll delve into the rhetorical analysis of autism communities.
(Or I'll opt for an entirely more peaceful pursuit and watch birds at the local parks.)