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We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation

Monday, December 19, 2022

We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation (2021) Eric Garcia

We're Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation This is book where I jumped from section to section, looking for bits that were pertinent to what I needed at the time I picked it up. It is one of many books I need to reread more thoroughly, now I’ve had time to process and work with my doctor.

This is an Own Voices book, written by an autistic man who didn’t (and doesn’t) see himself reflected in the popular (?) portrayal of autism.

One of the most striking sentences I read was this:

When parents make autistic kids not flap anymore or boys wear jeans instead of dresses, they replace the child that exists with the one they wished existed.

This again harks back to the sense stigma and otherness one gets when one isn’t quite like everyone around them, be that because of neurodiversity, being LGBT, mental illness, or many of the other factors that can lead to bullying and isolation.

He also mentions something that I have long felt (about a variety of shows and movies) but was never able to express.

Sheldon Cooper, a character on the television show The Big Bang Theory who is often speculated to be autistic. (Though the show’s creators object to the label, I’ve always seen the character as a reductive portrayal that is the autistic equivalent of blackface minstrelsy. Sheldon perpetuates the stereotype of a geek savant whose eccentric behaviors and rudeness toward other people— particularly women— are either a source of comedy or excused by his genius.)

So many popular movies and shows played (and do play) oddness for laughs, making those who are different the punchline rather than in on the joke. When I think of the movies that were popular when I was a teen, I can’t think of many where I felt the character that best represented me wasn’t the but of the joke: Breakfast Club, and Some Kind of Wonderful.

This is important because as you’ve heard many times, representation matters.

I think this was an extremely helpful book–as well as an important one.

Publisher: Mariner Books

Rating: 8.5/10


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