Student Research Projects

Silence in Autism: A Progressive Look at Limited Communication and Noise Sensitivity

Student Jessica Hauser, ‘13
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Communication
Course COMM 411: Senior Seminar: Silence


Autism is a severe medical concern, an epidemic affecting at least 1 in 88 children. People affected by autism often spend countless hours trying to behave like everyone around them, being subjected to punishment for behaving in ways that feel natural to them, and trying to communicate with others using their own techniques, all while being ignored or judged for being different. This perspective challenges the notion that people with autism should be expected to change in order to make the people around them more comfortable. Using clinical, psychological and personal documents, the research uncovers abilities in people with autism that are not as common in neurotypical people and proposes the possibility that autism is not something that can or should be cured. Rather, it should be accepted as an integral part of a society where special skills and creativity are valued. Proponents of ideal social standards who are trying to eradicate autism might be partially to blame for the significant increase in diagnoses. The research suggests the possibility that, because children are immersed in technology from a very young age, the brain’s natural ability to form typical neural connections has been truncated, and when combined with other environmental factors, autism is often the result. As little as is known about autism, it appears that many people are much closer to it than they realize. The reality is that everyone will encounter someone with autism on a personal level, and whether these encounters are seen as positive or negative experiences depends on education. This research goes so far as to suggest that, based on information gathered from a variety of sources, autism can be good and should be understood and accepted rather than cured.