I settled down to read "Veni! Vidi! Autism!" as one settles down to dine on a favorite meal. Having read some of Alec’s work before on his blog and other social media, I knew I’d enjoy it.
My favorite essay was undoubtedly "A Good Man," an essay aboutI settled down to read "Veni! Vidi! Autism!" as one settles down to dine on a favorite meal. Having read some of Alec’s work before on his blog and other social media, I knew I’d enjoy it.
My favorite essay was undoubtedly "A Good Man," an essay about the madness of King George III. I always enjoy good history, and Alec has definitely done his homework in this regard. He gives an exacting overview of the king’s condition and how it affected the realm. There’s also an overview of how the film version of the play differed from historical reality. I had to go back and read it a couple of times before finishing the rest of the book because it’s a genuine delight.
This ties in, of course, to the history of autism, and just as important — how autism has been perceived in our society. It was first viewed through a medical perspective: as a disease that needed a “cure.” By the 1970s, a new approach had emerged: that of a social spectrum where autism was part of the wide array of human diversity.
Of course, part of the medical view persists in the anti-vaxxer myths that vaccines “cause” autism. Alec doesn’t let Oprah and Jenny McCarthy off for their part in the spreading of this dangerous and ignorant fallacy.
My second favorite was the interview with D.A. Charles entitled Living Life with Autism, but it’s so much more. It’s about growing up with a “label,” disabilities in fiction, and even the most comfortable sites for tourists with sensory processing issues to visit. It’s one of the better discussions I’ve seen on education, and neurodiversity.
Through several essays in the book, Alec talks about how he became a disability advocate. We’re along for the ride as he encounters some of his heroes, such as Stan Lee and Nichelle Nichols. One of my favorites of his trips was to the Rebecca school, where he spoke to a group of children with autism. I wished so much as I read it that I’d met someone like Alec as a child, because it came across as such a warm and encouraging encounter. One little boy was embarrassed about his medications until Alec pulled out his own pill box. It was a small, spontaneous moment, but I bet it will stick with that child for a long time.
The book is also full of practical advice for people with autism on how to make friends, network, travel, and find their own dream job that suits their strengths and needs. He even lays out the steps he took in self-publishing a book in a refreshingly forthright manner.
Toward the end of the book, there’s a section of essays about films, and one of them is a defense of the Twilight fandom, one that’s a common cultural “punching bag.” It’s delightful to see such a spirited and thoughtful defense of a community that’s come to mean so much to so many.
What ties all of these essays together is a common theme of accessibility and diversity. Alec is direct, open, and honest about his challenges and his triumphs alike. The best part of all of this? This is only Alec’s second book, and he’s only just begun his career. With so many amazing accomplishments already, it’s hard to say where he’ll go next. We can only hope we’ll get to read along!...more
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