Even as kindness toward individuals with intellectual disabilities has increased, encountering an individual and his or her family whose lives revolve around the daily challenges that come with them is atypical, or is experienced and narrated as such, particularly by the media. Even when there is progress, making such a leap provides rhetorical cover, or at least a distraction, while intolerance regroups. And for some, it becomes less about showing love and compassion than about being able to pat oneself on the back when an interaction with a person like our son Neil is over.
But it's why they don't know, or are curious but reluctant to engage, or just flat out lack empathy, that compelled us to write this book. Contributing to their misimpressions and misanthropy are portrayals of individuals with intellectual disabilities in the mass media, scant though they are. We should always be skeptical of those in my line of work who argue that the onslaught of information we take in from a widened array of sources can magically change our behavior - the so-called "hypodermic needle" theory of media effects. But these messages do help us craft our realities and develop and share our own narratives about folks with intellectual disabilities.
Holding Up the Sky Together is admittedly a hybrid: part memoir, part academic analysis-a professor with more than 30 published articles and four books, all of which revolve around media analysis, looks inward. But our fervent hope is to inject a bit more realism into the national dialogue about intellectual disabilities. We are grateful for increased awareness and tolerance, for Special Olympics, and for shows like Born This Way. But there is so much more to be done.
Publisher: University Press of America
Number of pages: 194
Weight: 272 g
Dimensions: 231 x 148 x 12 mm
WOW! A rollercoaster of emotions and confrontations employing many voices-parents, people with disabilities, historians, educators, students, the mass media-orchestrated by a well read, thoughtful and talented author. An unusual and insightful review of literature integrated with real life stories makes this an engaging read. Bound to be controversial this book needs to be read for those who want to confront challenging issues facing disability today. -- Robert Bogdan, professor emeritus, Syracuse University. Award winning author of Picturing Disability: Beggar, Freak, Citizen, and Other Photographic Rhetoric (with Martin Elks and James Knoll)
This is a compelling memoir/media analysis that doesn't hold back in addressing the day-to-day complexities of raising a child with intellectual and physical disabilities. The book connects the author's parenting experience to the larger issue of society's distorted narratives about people with intellectual disabilities, as well as taking a nuanced look at how organizations like Special Olympics fit within these narratives. -- Beth Haller, Towson University