This chapter interrogates notions of the child and her brain as configured in the laboratory of pediatric neuroscientists, and by parents (overwhelmingly: mothers) of children classified for special education services on the basis of their varied learning capacities and incapacities. Data are drawn from my current New York-based study in a laboratory conducting fMRI research on resting-state differences amongst controls and children variously diagnosed with attention deficit hyper-activity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, autism and Tourette syndrome. Parents of children with those same diagnoses struggle with the strengths as well as the school-based weaknesses of their children, and in interviews they picture their children's brains quite differently than do the scientists. Young adult activists who grew up with the diagnoses of ADHD and learning disabilities appropriate lab-based descriptions of neurological difference to their own purposes, claiming a positive identity for themselves. At stake in the space between these diverse perspectives on childhood difference is the future of human developmental variability as it comes under biomedical research and regulation.
Rapp, R. (2011), "A Child Surrounds this Brain: The Future of Neurological Difference According to Scientists, Parents and Diagnosed Young Adults", Pickersgill, M. and Van Keulen, I. (Ed.) Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 3-26. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1057-6290(2011)0000013005Download as .RIS
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