Happy Autism Acceptance Month, everyone!
Haven’t heard of Autism Acceptance Month? Follow this link to the official site. Then watch Amethyst at Ask an Autistic give her take in the video at the bottom of this post.
But wait! read the rest of this post before you run off!
I’m planning posts I feel are related to acceptance for the rest of this month. Those topics include:
- Nuanced social learners
- Drawbacks to LRE
- Limitations of autism diagnostic criteria
But right now I want to talk about the book I finished reading today. I’m torn about how much I like it. The writing was good, I liked the story and the plot, there was a heavy focus on forensics, and there was a mystery/romance aspect, which is my favorite genre. It was about an autistic teen obsessed with forensics and setting up crime scenes for his mom to solve, who suddenly finds himself the subject of an investigation and subsequent murder trial. What’s not for me to love, right?
The exposition, as it turns out. I am of the opinion that expository writing in fiction should be kept to the absolute minimum. Here, though, it’s not the presence of exposition that bothers me, but the content. The author needs to get information about autism to the reader for the reader to follow the story and she does it rather skillfully through a combination of dialogue and narration. She also draws the autistic teen well, showing how he feels and the reasons others misunderstand him.
Where she loses me is with her opinions of the cause of autism. The author is clearly in the vaccine camp. I say this because that’s the only opinion given in the book and it’s combative in tone. Most of it comes from the mother in the story and the psychiatrist who first diagnosed and still treats her son. There is also one point where the autistic teen himself throws out a reason that his mother believes the vaccine theory. That’s actually the point where I threw the book across the room.
I’ve thought a lot about why the content and tone of this author’s exposition incenses me. I believe that authors should not push their own agenda onto the reader. Would it have bothered me if it were a different agenda? One on a different subject? Or one I actually agreed with?
Yes, it would.
But it wouldn’t have made me want to scream.
The anger is because she’s wrong, dead wrong, and she’s wrong about something I care deeply about. The vaccine theory has been disproved time and again. There is no causal link between autism and vaccines. I won’t say more than that here because it’s not the point of this essay.
The point is that my own autism is causing me internal discord over this book. It’s my black and white thinking. I like the writing and the story, but I can’t reconcile that with the blatantly incorrect theories put forth in the exposition. I can’t like the book and dislike it at the same time. Except that I do.