Ballastexistenz, who collects books by autistic authors, recently commented on a book entitled The Feeling's Unmutual, which has the subtitle Growing Up With Asperger Syndrome (Undiagnosed). She wrote that she liked the book because it reflected the author's genuine feelings (albeit of confusion and self-loathing) rather than being "doctored to the stereotypes."
I have great respect for Ballastexistenz (and if she ever writes a book, I'll be first in line to buy it), but I have to differ with her view of autie-biographies in general. I find the whole genre patronizing and exploitative, whether or not the stereotypes are exaggerated. As I see it, there's not much difference between autie-biographies and, looking back a century or so, the abominable genre of poetry and short stories written in dialect by African-American authors who described the humble joys of their cotton-pickin' lives. Perhaps the authors of those works were indeed happy with their lives (although I doubt it) but the very fact of their publication reinforced the stereotypes, whether or not that was the authors' intent.
I followed this link from the Ballastexistenz site to an online bookstore that sells The Feeling's Unmutual. One of the reviewers on that site wrote that the author's
"fascinating and compulsively readable book offers a powerful insight into fears and horrors more chilling than anything portrayed in fiction, and into his courage in coping with them."
Urk. Bleah. What an image for the consumption of the unwashed masses—a poor pitiful autistic sufferer coping heroically with the fearsome, horrible, and chilling contents of his disordered thoughts. No doubt many of the readers will come away feeling charitably inspired to make generous donations to CAN and NAAR's eugenic abortion research in order to save all future autistics from the awful pain of existing.
You want fears and horrors more chilling than anything portrayed in fiction? Try discovering that you're part of a minority group targeted for an international genocide, as described by elmindreda on her blog. She writes:
"It is a feeling that I find very difficult to convey to most people, since they cannot for example visit the websites of organisations that explain what a terrible burden people like them are to families and society in general, but that there is hope that doctors will soon be able to prevent more people like them from being born."
Again, I don't intend any criticism of Ballastexistenz for reading or recommending The Feeling's Unmutual. However, I lack both the patience and the intestinal fortitude to slog through too much of that sort of stuff. Until recently, I had one book by an autistic author on my bookshelf, Temple Grandin's Thinking in Pictures, which was a gift from my stepmother. When I found out Grandin was in favor of eugenics to remove nonverbal autistics from the human gene pool, I tossed her book into a box in my basement. The only reason it didn't go straight in the trash is because I was raised to believe that people who destroy books are barbarians.
But I'm starting to have second thoughts about that after seeing the vast amount of anti-autistic propaganda being churned out by the mass media. I have to confess, I would not be at all upset to see an enormous bonfire containing almost every book that was ever printed about autism, with the DSM-IV used as kindling. I'm having barbarian dreams of book-burning.
And when I see a book with a subtitle like Growing Up With Asperger Syndrome (Undiagnosed), I just have to wonder why so many aspies are meekly surrendering to society's negative labels. Almost all of us over age 30 grew up undiagnosed, for the simple reason that Asperger Syndrome didn't exist before the psychologists put it into the DSM-IV in 1994. There were other names for us—nerds, geeks, bookworms—which weren't particularly nice either, but at least we could recognize the bullying for what it was. Many of us eventually found careers that suited our interests and were accepted by society as healthy and intelligent people.
Now that the psychologists have, in effect, deprived millions of us of our civil rights by fiat, there are far too many aspies who lack any semblance of self-respect or willingness to question authority. They are obediently sewing that scarlet A, that yellow star, onto their sackcloth and ashes while they go about loudly bewailing their youthful lack of understanding of their disorders and deficits. Frankly, it makes me sick.
This is what I have to say to autistics who think of themselves as courageously coping sufferers who grew up with Asperger Syndrome (undiagnosed): I may not have the credentials of the so-called psychological experts, but I damn sure know how to diagnose prejudice when I see it.