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Master of Arts (M.A.)

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In the early 2000s, the idea of an “autism epidemic” spurred State action to expand research into autism’s causes and corresponding efforts at prevention, an effort overseen by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC). However, the language of autism prevention in the IACC’s Strategic Plan changed dramatically between 2009 and 2017, from the wholesale prevention of autism to prevention of its “most disabling aspects.” Through an analysis of IACC meeting transcripts during this timeframe, I trace the process by which this language was changed, with particular attention to the often-conflicting ways in which autistic self-advocates and non-autistic parent advocates framed autism itself. These conflicting conceptions of autism led to conflicting biological citizenship claims regarding the value of prevention, to which the IACC responded by attempting to appease both sides through language without substantially changing its aims. This process highlights the importance of framing in biological citizenship claims, as well as the persistence of the biopower State in asserting the need to regulate the existence of disability in the population.


First Advisor

Brian Sargent

Second Advisor

Amy Schalet

Third Advisor

Cedric de Leon

Fourth Advisor

Ashley Woodman