Cripping Kairos: The Risky Rhetorical Performance of Autism Disclosure for the College Student

Pamela Saunders


This article draws on qualitative interviews with one autistic student about his experiences accessing higher education, focusing on disability disclosure as a time-based rhetorical practice. I explore how Mike exploits the kairotic dimensions of autism disclosure in risky and contradictory ways to pursue his larger educational goals. Autistic students are often assumed to be unacceptably awkward, incapable of intentional stances, and fundamentally not rhetorical. These assumptions, however, obscure the complexity inherent in their rhetorical practices; this complexity is particularly salient in the timing of disability disclosure. I argue that Mike embodies a temporal expertise that expands the concept of crip time – often conceived as a delay or extension of normative time frames – to encompass time as a rhetorical resource for disabled rhetors.


kairos; disability disclosure; access; autism; accommodation; neurodiversity

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Copyright (c) 2020 Pamela Saunders

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