I'm also frustrated that publishing-enabled bigotry remains the dominant theme of the autism parenting literary realm, with authors like Newman continuing to get kudos for their "honesty." This is doubly angering as a parent who has been pushing for better autism coverage in progressive media outlets and better autism parenting role models for years, and who was, until this point, cautiously optimistic that public tolerance of exploitative autism parenting behavior was on the wane.
Nope. Publishers still don't seem to grok the problem with parents violating autistic children's privacy for their rubbernecking readers. Fellow autism parent Ron Suskind (who wrote the New York Times book review of To Siri that sparked the outrage) is, like Newman, the kind of dangerous autism double agent we see too much of these days: nimble users of neurodiversity-friendly code words and phrases—Newman makes the case for "autistic" versus "with autism"—who nevertheless undermine their children's rights by endorsing classically indefensible themes like forced sterilization.
I get that the journey towards best practices is not always the easiest for parents of autistic kids, having myself learned many hard and heartbreaking lessons about what my son does and does not deserve, since he was first diagnosed 14 years ago. But I also know that, while I would gut a fire-breathing dragon to get my son what he needs, autistic people will always be my son's greatest champions, in terms of fighting for his rights and basic dignity, now and forever. When it comes to autism, I am required to listen to autistic people If I want to do right by my son.
With autistic primacy in autism topics in mind, here are a few examples of autistic commentary from the #BoycottToSiri Twittersphere that both you, dear Reader, and Newman need to absorb:
.@judithn111, how can you say you’re “autism-very-friendly” while writing off the possibility that your son is capable of loving romantic relationships?— Sara Luterman (@slooterman) November 30, 2017
[cn: ableism, eugenics, mental-age-ism]— Ariane ⚧ (@nahratzah) November 30, 2017
I don't know what's worse.
- mom saying her nearly adult teenager is mentally a child
- mom thinking that no woman will ever love him
- or mom using that to argue eugenics (forced sterilization) on him
Trashfire she is. :(#BoycottToSiri https://t.co/MvulMYd1qP
Autistic people were once put in "idiot" asylums for the feebleminded, sterilized on basis of burden and invented danger to society. Judith wonders if her son even thinks. Same justifications used century ago. How was this even published? #ToSiriWithLove— Gregory Love (@grlo1114) November 30, 2017
Here's why #actuallyautistic folk and our allies should boycott Judith Newman's, To Siri With Love, which is written by an ~autism mommy~ of the highest order and is questionable af.— Amythest (@amythestschaber) November 28, 2017
A thread, 'cause what the everloving heck.#autistic #autism #ToSiriWithLove #BoycottToSiri pic.twitter.com/CTirdF9gaL
Mom writes book about Autistic son, says he will be forever a child, and promotes eugenics - USING HER AUTISTIC SON! #BoycottToSiri https://t.co/6aDtkdNwk0— Amy Sequenzia (@AmySequenzia) November 29, 2017
That's it for chp three...— Kaelan Rhy 📝54,315 (@KaelanRhy) December 1, 2017
This book is WORSE than I expected. Please support autistic authors instead of sending money this writer's way.
I'm sad because half of my feed is autistic and other neurodivergent writers who can't find agents/publishers for their #ownvoicers books and the other half is quotes from #ToSiriWithLove that dehumanise autistic people. #BoycottToSiri and support neurodivergent writers— Brooke Winters 🇪🇺 (@brookewinters33) December 1, 2017
I hope Newman realizes that her son may well read her book as well as the reaction from his own autistic community one day, and that she'll need to have both an explanation and an apology ready when that happens (if he even tells her).
And if she needs guidance on any of these matters: I'm actually a friendly person who happens to have an active BS-meter. I would be happy to provide advice or conversation.