For most of my teen and adult years, I’ve been aware of many folks and known many folks who are somewhere on the autism spectrum, both diagnosed and undiagnosed as such. I’ve always been aware of some of the negative, confusing, and discouraging language around the topic – and known that this “conversation” has been all wrong, harmful, and dangerous.
Reading We’re Not Broken, Changing the Autism Conversation by Eric Garcia brings back all those feelings, the knowledge, the concern. But in a good way. Garcia, a man who has autism, discusses the topic in relevant, real ways that help truly get the message across that autism is not brokenness.
Garcia does a brilliant job of bringing truth into focus surrounding many confusing words and much wrong “information” spread through media, social media, and face-to-face conversations.
Starting out with the false narrative that vaccines create autism as perpetuated by non-experts who were given public platforms and what it was like growing up with those beliefs as a man who has autism. And the “autistic shooter” fears raised by false narratives spread by the media after mass shootings by a few who were potentially on the spectrum (or, in some cases, suggested as such by the media with absolutely no evidence of this).
Often the intent isn’t harm, but emotional indulgences, drama, and fear brought on by events in the past have perpetuated these falsehoods.
Each chapter of the book addresses a different aspect of life, discussing the unique aspects of those parts of life and how they impact autism and vice versa. Chapters include policy, education, work, housing, health care, relationships, gender, race, and “what comes next”. The concept gives us feet to take our learning to places and provides ways that we can be advocates.
I obviously can’t tell everyone to read this book, but I definitely think as many people as possible should. Whether you’re already steeped in the autism culture, on the periphery, or aren’t aware of knowing folks on the spectrum, this book is a valuable tool in better understanding perspectives of those who are on the spectrum, family members, and friends in the autism community.