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UnexpectedParenting, Prenatal Testing, and Down Syndrome$
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Alison Piepmeier

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479816637

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479816637.001.0001

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Saints, Sages, and Victims

Saints, Sages, and Victims

Down Syndrome and Parental Narrative

(p.79) 4 Saints, Sages, and Victims

Alison Piepmeier

George Estreich

Rachel Adams

NYU Press

This chapter examines a complicated genre: the memoir written by a parent of a child with a disability. Despite the formulaic presentation of these narratives as a triumph over adversity, Alison Piepmeier describes many of them as sites of dehumanization. Parental memoirs often overly focus on grief or a medicalized picture of disability. They can reinforce familiar, deeply troubling attitudes about people with disabilities as tragic, burdensome, and unworthy. At the same time, Alison shows that parental memoirs can serve an activist function, acting as sites of resistance, challenging misinformation, and reworking prevailing perceptions of disability.

Keywords:   disability, parental memoirs, dehumanization, medicalized picture of disability, negative cultural attitudes, prevailing perceptions, resistance

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