February 24, 2010

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Roy Grinker will give the talk, "Unstrange Minds: Remapping Autism," on Wednesday, March 10, at 7 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the continuing Meerwarth Sociology and Anthropology series. It will be followed by a book signing and reception at which Grinker's books will be available for purchase.

Grinker, who is professor of anthropology and director of the Institute for Ethnographic Research at George Washington University, is the author of four books. His latest, Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism, is both an account of the cultural factors underlying changes in autism prevalence, and his own experiences raising a daughter with autism.

Selected by Library Journal as one of the 30 best books of 2007, Unstrange Minds received the 2008 KEN Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness for "outstanding contribution to a better understanding of mental illness." In 2008, the book was published in England and, in translation, in the Netherlands, South Korea and Japan.

In a Feb. 9 op-ed in The New York Times, Grinker wrote, "If you ask my daughter, Isabel, what autism means to her, she won't say that it is a condition marked by impaired social communication and repetitive behaviors. She will say that her autism makes her a good artist, helps her to relate to animals and gives her perfect pitch.

"The stigma of autism is fading fast. One reason is that we now understand that autism is a spectrum with an enormous range. Some people with autism are nonverbal with profound cognitive disabilities, while others are accomplished professionals."

International research
"Professor Grinker's lecture is based on his recent research into the rising prevalence of autism in the United States and beyond," said Edmund Searles, an assistant professor of anthropology at Bucknell.

"Once thought of as a rare psychological condition, autism rates have grown rapidly throughout the world (some argue it's an epidemic). The Autism Society of America 'estimates that 1.5 million Americans suffer from some kind of autism and predicts a figure as high as 4 million for the year 2014,'" he said.

Author and editor
An award-winning author, Grinker is editor-in-chief of Anthropological Quarterly, a leading journal in the field of cultural anthropology.

His work, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, Autism Speaks, and the Children's Brain Research Foundation, focuses on the role of culture in the epidemiology of autism. With the Centers for Disease Control, he is a co-founder of the Global Partnership for the Epidemiology of Developmental Disorders, and is consulting with the Minnesota Department of Public Health in a study of the prevalence of autism among Somalis in Minnesota.

Grinker's talk is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender, the departments of education, East Asian studies, psychology, and sociology and anthropology, the neuroscience program, the Meerwarth Speakers Fund, and the University Lectureship Committee.

Contact: Division of Communications



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