And Straight On Till Morning: Essays on Autism Acceptance

Like the previous book, Loud Hands, this anthology was published by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and in fact takes its title from the title of one of the essays in that book.

And, same as that previous book, it starts off with a list of those autistics who were murdered by their parents and caretakers.

This book was written in the run-up to Autism Awareness Month in April 2012 and so a lot of the essays are on what this means for autistic people. How awareness without acceptance is meaningless.

There are pieces about the abuse of autistic people in places like the Judge Rotenberg Centre, as well as how those who murder autistics are often sympathized with. At times it makes very difficult reading. But like the previous book, I believe it is a vital addition to people’s knowledge of the lives of autistic people, such as Amanda Baggs, Lydia Brown and Kassiane Sibley, in their own words, as well as the words of allies such as Shannon Des Roches Rosa.

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Loud Hands: autistic people, speaking

This was the first book I ever read that featured the words of autistic people. I have to give it credit for changing my life, and those of my kids, forever. I had never read anything like it.

It starts off with a list of names of autistic people murdered by their parents and caregivers. Then hits you with Jim Sinclair’s Do Not Mourn For Me.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Written by Naoki when he was 13, this book has a very nice “Q&A” style format, interspersed with some short pieces of creative writing. The questions are nice and simple and the answers Naoki types in response are quite thoughtful. They give quite a good insight into the mind of a teenage autistic who has high support needs and whose thoughts might otherwise never be known.

One small criticism would be that he often uses “we” when “I” might be more appropriate. As in, not all autistics would give the same answers to the same questions. Yes, some might give similar answers but I did find some of his answers wildly different to my own experiences.

Still, quite a good book to read and it might help some non-autistics gain some invaluable insights.

The Girl with the Curly Hair by Alis Rowe

This was a book I bought and read years ago, when my son was first diagnosed autistic and I wanted to read books by autistic people. I really enjoyed it at the time, but on re-reading it shows me how much my thinking has evolved since then.

This is another book written primarily for non-autistic parents of autistic children. There are little grey “boxes” throughout with “handy tips” and advice. It might also be seen as a bit of a self-help book for newly diagnosed autistics. It’s not really a memoir as such, just a description of how autism effects the author, who uses person-first language throughout, as well as talking about “high functioning” autism. She also tends to generalize quite a bit, so it’s important to point out that she can only speak for herself. In her generalizations, she quotes from people such as Tony Atwood.

Another thing that made this book harder to read than was necessary is that she has included a lot of diagrams consisting of boxes filled with different colours, with writing inside them. My eyesight is not the best and even with glasses on I found it very difficult to read these texts. So I admit I ended up skipping the later ones rather than giving myself eye strain.

All in all, a book better suited perhaps to parents who need something simple to read to maybe understand their autistic children a bit better.

One The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

I am so happy that this novel is set at Schipol Airport, and surrounding areas of The Netherlands, as not only have I been there many times, but as it’s always nice to read stories not based in the US or UK.

It is set in 2035, so not so far in the distant future that it’s implausible, but far enough from now that things like spaceships exist. Somehow that makes it far easier for me to imagine.

And what I have to imagine is this: Earth has been hit by a comet and the autistic main character, Denise, must try and somehow bring herself and her family to safety. The plot is very good, with enough twists to keep it interesting.

But in addition to that, the representation of an autistic person was spot on. Even though Corinne makes it clear in the Author’s Note at the end that all autistic people are different, I think the depiction of Denise’s traits and sensitivities, her strengths and weaknesses, really ring true for me.

Hunt by L.C.Mawson

Freya is an orphan, who suspects she’s autistic, and is starting over with new foster parents in a new school, after being bullied in her previous one. What she doesn’t realise is, that’s not all she is, and her life is going to change in ways she can’t imagine.

This YA fantasy novel, full of Witches, Demons, Ghosts and even an Angel, was a brilliant find. A quick, easy read that nevertheless captured my imagination, the only downside was it was over too soon. The good news is that it’s the first book (though there’s a prologue I haven’t read yet) in a series. There’s even a teaser in the form of the first chapter of the next book. Which I’m now going to have to read…

Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber edited by Dani Alexis Ryskamp and Sam Harvey

Like the previous anthology, Spoon Knife 2 is a mixture of poetry, prose and memoir. Except in this case all three categories are mixed in together instead of being separated into discrete sections. That’s the only criticism I have as I find I preferred the way the previous anthology was organized. The books do have different editors so perhaps that influenced the layout.

As for the pieces themselves, like the ones in the previous anthology, they stirred up such a range of emotions that I found it difficult to read at times. That’s not a criticism though. It is good to read books that challenge us to think, and to feel.

Again, I’m going to have to go back and re-read this book many things new over. As I feel that each time I do, I will gain new things from it.

A thoroughly wonderful anthology brimming with the words of many many brilliant writers.