Friday, March 16, 2018

So, why haven't you written that book?

It's a question I've been hearing for at least eight years: "So, why haven't you written that book?"

Back in 2010, when Bud was ten years old, I wrote a series of posts about a presentation I gave to his fourth grade class, trying to help them understand autism and trying to help them understand Bud. A Hairdryer Kid in a Toaster-Brained World and the series of posts that followed took on a life of their own, and I found my blog suddenly getting thousands of hits every day - and at some points, every hour. I got lots of feedback, attention, and email.

Early on, people encouraged me to turn the series into a book, and I was offered assistance from people who had the power to make it happen. I was overwhelmed, but flattered, so I agreed.

For about a year, I tried to make it happen. I shaped book proposals from different angles and for different audiences, but none of them felt right.

I tried writing A Hairdryer Kid in a Toaster Brained World: A Kids' Guide to Understanding Autism, and was well on my way when I was horrified to realize that I was directing the book to everybody EXCEPT kids with autism.

I scrapped it and started over.

I've been scrapping it and starting over for the past eight years.

It's only been recently - starting, maybe, sometime around November 8, 2016 - that I have figured out why.

I wouldn't want to read a book about what it feels like to be a woman that was written by a man.

I wouldn't want to read a book about what it feels like to be gay that was written by someone who is straight.

I wouldn't want to read a book about what it feels like to be black that was written by someone who is white.

I wouldn't want to read a book about what it feels like to be transgender that was written by someone who is cisgender.

So, I don't want to write a book about what it feels like to be autistic, because I am neurotypical.

There are many amazingly talented autistic writers out there who are eager to write about their lives, their experiences, and their truths. Because I'm neurotypical, I have more access than they do, which is precisely why I need to step aside.

The "Hairdryer Kid" series is out there on the blog - because, as we all know, any old yahoo with a computer and an internet connection can write a blog.

But the books on being autistic - the ones with real insight, real credibility, and real information that those of us raising autistic children need to read - they need to be written by autistic people.