And Straight On til Morning : Essays on Autism Acceptance
Published by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network
We want April — Autism Acceptance Month — to matter, to help
further acceptance and understanding of autistic experiences, happiness,
and rights for autistic people of all ages and abilities. We will be
publishing your Autism Acceptance posts and pictures all month long. If
you want to participate, contact us at thinkingautism at gmail dot com.
In keeping with Autism Acceptance month, there probably isn’t a more appropriate book to share than And Straight On til Morning : Essays on Autism Acceptance,
which contains the work of wonderful Autistics and allies, including
Zoe Gross, Shain Neumeier, Lydia Brown, as well as Kassiane Sibley, and
Shannon Des Roches Rosa from TPGA.
Julia Bascom edited the collection, and in its current format, an ebook, it is available quickly, and very inexpensively at $2.99.
was never much for any of the campaigns to wear a certain color, or a
certain ribbon. When I was told that April is Autism Awareness month, I
thought it was just plain odd, because we’re pretty aware of autism.
What’s missing is the impetus from Awareness to Acceptance, and that’s
precisely what this book works to do. One contributor, Carol Quirk, reveals her personal transformation from the deficit model–by listening to autistics, and their families, she began to “presume competence.” This shift in paradigm changes the
way an ally advocates, from speaking for autistics, to listening and learning from autistics. And Straight On til Morning focuses on this shift and
has a forward by ASAN President, Ari Ne’eman that is all at once,
grateful for the changes we’ve seen with the growth of the
neurodiversity movement, and yet remains a call to arms to work for
The opening essay Plants Outside the Shade, by
Amanda Baggs, is moving and poetic as she shares how she interacts with
the world, “Objects have always been alive to me, and my interaction
with them has always felt like communication.” And she reveals how
rarely people have understood what she is communicating, because of how
she conveys the message, “I seem to come with an entirely different set
of assumptions about the world than most people do. The older I get, the
more I realize there are huge gaps between how I see the world and how
Baggs description of accessing
skills with her autistic brain reads like undulations of information,
rather than having a constant level of ability, and she explains it so
well. Her words left me wondering if this accounts for the difficulty
some have when skills don’t transfer to other environments; home versus
school, or why routine is sometimes a solace.
M. Jorgensen, PhD. an educator, walks the reader through the concepts
of accepting autism as a “natuaral part of human diversity.” Where the
disease model fades away, and “having autism should not diminish a
person’s ability to live a full life in the community.” In this realm a
student’s behavior is assumed to be a form of communication, not a
if we appreciated the unique talents of students with autism and
recognized the contributions that they might make to our schools and
the tone of the book is generally pressing, after all this is advocacy
work, we are left with a sense of purpose after most essays, but this is
not without hard truths, and in my case more than a few tears. Killing Words by Zoe Gross, send a clear message with the title alone, and I was absorbed by Shain Neumeier’s detailed account in The Judge Rotenberg Center on Trial.
At the Judge Rotenberg Center, horrific, almost Medieval-type “therapy”
is still administered to clients in the form of painful electric shocks
to the skin in an attempt to punish self-injurious behavior (like
tensing your entire body…while you are strapped down). In the trial,
you can hear by the language of the defendants that they see these
patients as “other;” There is no acceptance to be found here. JRC will
be shut down with the help of groups like the publisher of this book,
ASAN, eventually, but until then, a read-through of this case
underscores the need for continued advocacy.
There is a
section devoted to Acceptance vs. Awareness, where Kate Gladstone,
Kassiane S., Lydia Brown, and Shannon Rosa point out the subtle and not
so subtle ways the two are very different. As Kassiane S. says
“Awareness is easy, Acceptance required actual work.”
little bit of light is wrapped up in the stories that remind us
progress that has been, or can be made when Paula C. Durbin-Westby
proffers playdates in, From the Pro-Neurodiversity Trenches, and Andee Joyce shares her public speaking debut, I’m in Ur Toastmasters Meeting, Giving U Speeches. And Meg Evans, whose essay title was used for the book, writes,
we work to create more opportunities in society for ourselves and our
children, we are storytellers above all else. When we focus on
developing inclusive education programs, ending employment
discrimination, making community services more widely available, and
many other worthwhile causes, we are crafting social narratives centered
on acceptance and inclusion. Such stories form a backdrop for the
scenes of a strong, confident, successful life.
stories that this book holds are just a glimpse of all that we can learn
from each other. And in the strive for a world where Autistics are
included not as
an afterthought, but as integral voices to shape teaching and classroom
environments, and are considered part of the “team of experts”
systems, it would serve us well to continue to gather as much insight as
we can from books like this.
And Straight On til Morning : Essays on Autism Acceptance is available at Amazon.com in the Kindle store.
Byde Myers is an editor at Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, and
received a free copy of this ebook for review. Her writing here reflects
her own opinion of the book.