From invisibility to epidemic: the narrative construction of autism in the Brazilian press

Clarice Rios Francisco Ortega Rafaela Zorzanelli Leonardo Fernandes Nascimento About the authors

Although autism is not a contagious disease, the term “autism epidemic” is used in allusion to the dramatic increase in the number of new cases in only a short period of time. This paper provides an overview of the socially shared conceptions surrounding autism in Brazil, through the narratives that have given visibility to this topic in the Brazilian press between 2000 and 2012. We regard these narratives not as representations of a reality a priori, but through their function of structuring human experience. On the one hand, such narratives shape and give content to the issues and controversies that surround autism in Brazil, while on the other hand, they also actively contribute to such debates, given that they affect the meaning that readers place on them.

Autism; Narrative; Media


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