I didn’t want to the year to go by without mentioning this book I read about autism, put out by Flanker Press and the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is made up of a collection of stories told by parents of children with autism, caregivers and health professionals, as well as individuals who are living with autism. By compiling their stories into a book, the authors are hoping to raise more awareness and knowledge of the disorder and those affected by it.
I found these stories touching, inspiring, enlightening, and often humorous. I have learned more about what kinds of supports are needed to help children with autism reach their full potential, and the struggles with getting some of these supports in a timely manner.
But what struck me the most after reading this was the need for full inclusion and acceptance of individuals with autism. We are all pretty aware of it by now (even if we don’t understand all the biology behind it), but do we all sincerely believe that people with autism have a valuable place in our world, and that they are as capable and deserving of a full and happy life as anyone else? This is what this book has impressed upon me and made me think about. We all need support from others in some way – people with autism are no different. In the words of Tom Jackman, one of the contributors to the book and an individual living with Asperger’s Syndrome “There is no disability, only different ability. You choose how to see it. ”
I’ll leave you with a quote from contributor Doug McCreary, whose story of living with three sons, all with autism, is full of humour and insight: “At our house, we believe an optimist is someone who figures taking a step backward after taking a couple of steps forward is not a disaster; it’s more like a cha-cha”.
I strongly encourage you to visit aspiecomic.com, a very funny website by Doug McCreary’s son, Michael McCreary.
For further reading about autism spectrum disorder, you might want to check out NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman. Shannon recommends it, and it also won the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. His TED Talk about the forgotten history of autism is also excellent.
If you’re more of a fiction reader, then I highy recommend Do You Think This Is Strange? by Aaron Cully Drake. It was one of my favourite books this year.