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.


Unknown said...

Well, but ... how about a book that is your (unique) perspective. Your son is very prolific in his medium — and you, my dear, have a unique perspective, and your sense of humor, your sense of egalitarianism, your sense of quality in all human beings — not to mention your literary style — is second to none.

Please, please write a book!!

One of your old (and current) fans,

Marge Blanc

Diane said...

I have been reading your blog since Bud was little. I love your writing, and if you wrote a book on changing the vacuum bag I would buy it and recommend it to all my friends. But you're right: books about being autistic should be written by autistic authors. Thanks for sharing your realization with us.

VTBudFan said...

Now I want to read anything that you write AND anything that Diane writes!

Daisy said...

I'm still considering writing "Educating Amigo," a story about getting through schooling with a blind kiddo on the spectrum. Maybe that's what's missing; Amigo's voice.

Anonymous said...

Writing here as an actual autistic, there are few books out there by actual autistics, but millions of words in blogs and elsewhere.

Part of the problem is that we recognise that most parents will not listen. They are mostly caught up in that curebie mentality, seeing their children as a burden. To Siri With Love? Autism Uncensored?

We know this, and publishers know this. First impressions suggest you might not be like this, but I hope you understand that as an autistic I have reason to be wary.

Perhaps you could ask Bud if he might be interested in writing something jointly. I have not read your blog. I came here through a link from ASAN. That does not change the fact that you might end up having some difficult conversations.

Anonymous said...

Well said Anon. Please, not another book by a parent claiming to speak for their child. The blogs and continual facebook posts about their kids are bad enough and a complete invasion of privacy imo.

Anonymous said...

I think it's hard to walk the line of wanting to share and receive information to better understand our children and the world from their perspective and hoping to help other parents when we have that "aha!" moment of enlightenment. But we don't want to exploit our children's issues and milestones along the way. Some things will always be private but without that sharing of information we are stuck in our own ignorance and unable to give them all the tools and understanding they need from us. I learn from my son every day and wanting to lighten the challenges he faces each day doesn't mean I don't love who he is or who he can become. It's a fact Autism can make some things very difficult and painful if I could take those things away for him I would.

Anonymous said...

I agree Anon 3/26-5:44 however I am talking about the parents who use Facebook and/or their blogs multiple times per day to talk about the personal details of their child on the spectrum. This is not just to share information in order to "educate". It is used to fill their own personal ego at the expense of their childrens' privacy. There are a couple specifically (not MomNos) who are so over the top that each day is filled with elaborate stories to attract comments and attention. These parents have an unusual need for positive feedback. This is the world we live in today and it's sad. Any book any of these parents put out will be mere extensions of their daily ramblings. There is no education going on there.

Anonymous said...

Wretches & Jabberers

It's a documentary about two men with autism that embark on a global quest to change attitudes about disability and intelligence.

If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend it! Once or twice a year, on rainy or special days, I play it in my classroom.


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