Being Autistic in Turkey and the Representation of Autism in Media

Being Autistic in Turkey and the Representation of Autism in Media

Tuğba Demir (İzmir Kavram Vocational School, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6825-5.ch032
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Autism is an innate or developmental difference that occurs in the first years of life. While the number of individuals with autism in the world is increasing day by day, the importance of what should be known about autism also increases. However, it is still not possible to say that this information is sufficient. The definition of individuals with autism and their health problems, what autistic individuals do to express themselves, and who the individuals with autism are and their representatives are important. Some basic points such as how to raise awareness about the lives of individuals with autism have still not been overcome. The main theme of this study is how the media addresses the issue of individuals with autism, their problems, and needs. The research question of the study is how to read the reflections on autism through the media.
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Health has been one of the most important agenda items in the world, especially as of 2020. The pandemic announced by the World Health Organization due to the virus called Covid 19 affecting the whole world undoubtedly caused many things to change in the world and even caused the world’s other problems of high importance to be postponed. In 2020, the whole world has talked less about topics such as war, hunger, climate change, terrorism, politics, etc. because the most important issue has been the health issue due to the pandemic affecting the whole world. Based on the previous years, all the countries of the world focused more on health policies and took them very seriously. It has been strikingly noticed that the human factor, human life, and quality of life are also very important for the continuity of the world. Although many things make some differences between people for economic reasons, this distinction does not make a sharp difference when it comes to health because, in the fragile ecosystem of life, the lives of all living things are interconnected. Most people face health problems equally. Even the most fortunate group has had bad experiences that reveal that they cannot consider themselves away from possible problems that may be caused by the health issue.

This conjuncture has also created the necessity to talk about health issues a lot on the world agenda and to give health information. There is no doubt that the media plays an important and very active role in this regard. The media, in particular, expert journalists on health have passed a big test on how they can reflect health news. While the way the media reflects any subject has been a topic that has been discussed throughout the history of the media, the reflection of health-related issues in the media is again a quite up to date area of analysis. However, at this point, it is possible to state regarding the subject of this study that the subject of health is very comprehensive. It is only a topic that seriously focuses on epidemics, as the world is still in the pandemic process. But many issues that exist in the name of health are still very important.

The main theme of this study is autism. This study aims to give general information about autism and the lives of individuals diagnosed with autism. The reason for this aim is that this study on autism will undoubtedly support the aim of raising awareness about autism as a result of the inclusion of it in the book named “Representing Health and Medicine in Modern Media”. For individuals already concerned with autism, this section will bring forward important information for the reflection of autism in the media. Also, bringing forward information about autism in terms of media reflections will be informative for gaining a perspective. It is the greatest wish to create source information to increase the number of studies on the subject.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are included in the medical literature as a neurodevelopmental problem. However, among such disorders, it is a special area that is discussed the most, frequently researched, and studied. Despite this clinical picture, no precise information has been reached on it. Currently, there are differences of opinion among the findings obtained from studies conducted for the diagnosis, follow-up, and treatment of it. According to the literature information obtained from all the readings for this research, the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders generally appear in the early years of life. Failure to achieve the expected development in terms of communication skills or delay in such skills compared to other children manifests itself with restrictive interests or more emphasis on specific issues. However, these statements are never sufficient to identify the situation; it is a very complex process to determine that an individual has autism, and, likely, the diagnosis is initially expressed as a developmental delay or disorder.

This may initially suggest that over time, the current situation may improve to a certain extent or the difference with others may gradually decrease. However, autism is a process of a lifetime. Many studies have been conducted on the education and development of various skills of individuals diagnosed with autism. While it is observed that learning skills are quite beneficial for some people, for some individuals with autism, it is very difficult or sometimes impossible to acquire certain skills. It is still unknown why autism occurs. However, like many diseases of which the cause is not yet known, autism is thought to be influenced by biological, genetic, and environmental factors that affect the formation of the individual.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Non-Governmental Organizations: Other than official institutions representing the state and operating independently from them, they are the civic mobility centers working for different purposes such as political, social, cultural, legal, and environmental, etc.

Autism: It is a complex developmental disorder that manifests itself with a significant delay and restrictive interests compared to other children, especially in the field of interaction and communication.

Health Literacy: It is the development of awareness for reading and understanding the news on health issues in the media.

Media: Technically equipped communication tools that enable communication with a crowd.

News Expertise: It is the creation of news formed to meet the communication needs of people with special competence areas. Health news expertise about the news to be written in the field of health should be developed.

Activism: It includes actions dealing with the problems of certain socially important issues. It means taking action deliberately to bring about the desired changes.

Representation: It is the fictionalizing of how news is reflected in the media, which specific features of it are emphasized, and what aspect of it is symbolized.

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