In The Politics of Autism, I discuss divisions and factions within the autism community. The last line of the book: "After decades of talking about autism as a deficit of communication, people who make and study policy should listen as autistic people speak for themselves."
What surprised me most after I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in my late 30s was the divisions I saw among researchers, clinicians, journalists, autistic people and caretakers in the way they talked about autism. Some sought to eradicate it, while others embraced it as an identity. Having spent my whole life unknowingly masking my autistic traits, I had to advocate for a diagnosis for me and my kids once I realized we were autistic. Much more than a diagnosis, though, autism is an integral part of my identity, and I’m raising my kids to be proud of their autistic identity, too.
Eric Garcia’s outstanding book, “We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation,” highlights how a lack of input from autistic people “can perpetuate stigmatizing ideas about autism,” which leads to his call to include autistic people in the conversations that concern them. As an autistic mother of autistic children, I couldn’t agree more with the main argument of Garcia’s book: “Society should stop trying to cure autistic people and instead help autistic people live fulfilling lives.” In the same vein of Steve Silberman’s “NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity,” Garcia’s book uses rich storytelling and insightful reporting to uncover not only the long history of how autistic people have been mistreated but also how they continue to be ignored.