Writing and Autism: Return to a Past Topic
My doctoral dissertation raised questions about how well autistic students navigate academic writing, especially at the college level. The mandated first-year composition courses common in our universities carry a number of assumptions about what is "normal" and what is the "right" way to think about the world around us. Some of the classic scholarship in writing studies makes claims about thinking and problem solving that outright contradict the autistic/neurologically different experience.
It is important to raise questions about what is "right" when academics make absolute assumptions about what constitutes higher-level thought and creativity.
My first two posts can be read at:
Some of the issues with writing I might address include:
- Lacking organization in essays and papers, often jumping from topic to topic without transitions
- Assuming audience familiarity with information, generally assuming too much prior familiarity with the topic addressed
- Emphasizing the personal instead of the general, leading to a "first-person" perspective when inappropriate to the genre
- Failing to explain conclusions, again assuming readers share the author's experiences and views
- Using figurative language poorly or incorrectly, an issue associated with "undeveloped" metaphorical thinking (and second language learners)
Again, thematic organization is not a unique problem: most papers I read at the college level have issues with organization and flow. If it helps, at least parents and students should realize "autism" is not the "problem" in most cases. Students struggle with academic writing and the "genre norms" we grade.