Autism News, 2015/05/11

Wow. So much happened during/after Autism Month, I’ve been having trouble keeping up with it all! But here is your vaguely-sorta-monthly-ish dose of autism stuff that has happened online.

Since it’s Acceptance Month (to many of us), here is some acceptance stuff:

An autistic 11-year-old named Kayleb Moon-Robinson was arrested and charged with felony assault for knocking over a trash can and struggling against a policeman.

Disability in Kidlit’s Autism On the Page event was very cool. And VERY relevant to my interests.

Other stuff in the actual, newspaper-y news:

Misc:

Autistic Book Party, Episode 18: The End Games

Surprise! I did not one but two collaborations this month with Disability in Kidlit. The newest one went up on the weekend while I was LARPing, so I wasn’t able to announce it the same day… but better late than never, right?

The Book: “The End Games” by T. Michael Martin

The Plot: Two young brothers attempt to escape from a zombie apocalypse.

Autistic Character(s): Patrick, the protagonist’s five-year-old brother.

Read the full review HERE.

The Disability in Kidlit editors found this book difficult and wanted more than one perspective, so you can also read Harper Lynn‘s review as well. The two reviews are complementary, each focusing on different aspects of the book; I was very engrossed with picking apart the characters and their relationships, as well as the book’s abuse themes, while Lynn focuses more on plot issues.

Autistic Book List changes

Just a note that I’ve reorganized the Autistic Book List slightly. Looking through some of the recent Disability in Kidlit posts and seeing how many cool autistic people are out there with cool opinions, I realized that organizing unread books based on what I think of the author, etc, doesn’t really make sense. So, the books are now organized based on whether or not there are clueful autism-related reviews of them by other people. That way, if you are looking for Autistic Book Party’s opinion on a book and I haven’t gotten to it, you’ll know that there are other useful opinions by other people.

I’m sure that I’m not aware of all or even most reviews of autism-related speculative fiction by autistic people, so please feel free to link me to any such things that I might not be aware of.

Please note that reviews by autistic people really are best. Reviews that talk about autism but are not written by autistic people will be handled on a case by case basis. In general, I’ll be more likely to add a review by an NT person pointing out problems than a review by an NT person saying “this was so good and inspiring”. It might be, but I’ve simply seen too many cases of well-meaning NT people saying the latter and not knowing what they are talking about, so right now I’m treating those with caution.

Ad Astra 2015 con report

I’m back from Ad Astra! It was, like last year, exhausting and great.

I branched out this year in the number and type of panels that I did. Last year I felt that I was dipping my toe into the water, and stuck to safe topics – what is it like to be a writer, who are my favourite villains. This year I was a little more adventurous. I signed up to be on the Identity and Diversity panel as well as Mental Health in Fandom, even though I was scared they’d be a little too intense for me. Turns out that the panels with lively discussion on an important and meaningful topic are actually my favourites! Who’d have thought? I definitely want to do more of this in the future, now.

I also was super pleased and surprised to see how many people on the different panels WANTED to hear about autism. When it was relevant (and on 3 of the 5 panels, it was) I mentioned in my introduction that I write a blog about representations of autism in science fiction, but almost in a sort of apologetic way, like I didn’t want to go on about that the whole panel if people were interested in other things. Instead, people were interested! Really interested! Like 50% of the Big Bang Theory panel and 50% of the Mental Health panel turned into people wanting to talk about autism, which was amazing. And then I realized that I shouldn’t have been surprised. This is fandom, after all. I’ve heard it referred to as “the world’s largest Asperger Syndrome support group”. My special power is not that I have it, but that I talk about it and have been talking about it for a while now, and doing the research so I can talk about it even more and in more detail.

I also ended up recommending Meda Kahn and Luna Lindsey (among others) to people on the Identity and Diversity panel and they actually wrote it down. So this satisfies my life goal of continuing to promote Meda Kahn everywhere.

(To do for next year: Prepare longer list of people to recommend. At EVERY panel.)

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to branch out very much in my other con habits. I’m still trying to figure out how to do conventions as anything other than “do the panels and readings that I was assigned, go to maybe 1 or 2 other things and wander around a little, but mostly just hide in my room between assigned things recharging from the sensory overload”. Figuring out how to balance my neurological needs with my desire to participate more fully, and how to socially approach people in general, is still a work in progress.

Related to that – Amal El-Mohtar, Michael Matheson, James Bambury, Charlotte Ashley, and others! HI! I saw you around (except for Charlotte who I thought I was going to see at a panel and then didn’t) and went, “There’s that person! I should say hi to them!” and then didn’t. But I think you are great! Maybe I will see you and go “There’s that person!” again next year! That would be excellent.

This sort of thing is really great, I think. Definitely worth the travel and the con crud. I think I need to do it even more than I am doing.

Autism News, 2015/04/02

Today is Autism Awareness Day or Autism Acceptance Day, depending on who you ask. It’s also Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month, for the same reasons.

Some posts about acceptance, in keeping with the theme of the month:

Some posts about ableism and advocacy:

Some posts about ableism in other contexts:

Also! Posts about autism in books, which is Relevant To Our Interests here:

Misc:

Autistic Book Party, Episode 17: Silence

Today’s Autistic Book Party was produced in collaboration with Disability in Kidlit’s Autism on the Page event, which runs all April [and is not an April Fool’s joke, unlike my last post 😛 ]

The Book: “Silence” by Michelle Sagara

The Plot: Emma, a teenager dealing with the death of her boyfriend, develops an ability to see and interact with the dead.

Autistic Character(s): Michael, a school friend of Emma’s.

Read the full review HERE.

My schedule for Dinosaurcon 2015

I have the flu, so rather than coming up with a new April Fool’s Joke, I decided to resurrect an old one. Literally. Well, sort of literally.

DINOSAURCON 2015: THEY LIVE AGAIN

A convention promoting the use of dinosaurs, synapsids, pterosaurs, sauropterygia, and other prehistoric beings in speculative fiction.

Following the success of last year’s University of Etobicoke Room Party, several of our panelists this year are actual genetically reconstructed dinosaurs. We thank the University of Etobicoke and the Jurassic World marketing team for their generosity.

Friday, 5:00 PM. Why Dinosaurs?

For the boyfriend, family member, or other unwillingly dragged-to-the-con participant who doesn’t understand why paleontology is so awesome. We will MAKE you understand. Possibly with lasers. Ha ha! That was a joke, worried boyfriends and family members being unwillingly dragged to the con! We will totally just explain these things in a peaceable, non-coercive manner and with no lasers at all, we promise.

Friday, 8:00 PM. So What Is It Like To Be A Genetically Reconstructed Dinosaur, Exactly

It’s not easy living 65+ million years after your species was supposed to go extinct. Our panelists discuss how they have learned to live with humans, their struggles in handling instincts for which a corresponding social or pack structure no longer exists, their reactions to human enthusiasm and fear, and how they would REALLY like a burger right now. Like, really.

Saturday, 11:00 AM. Signing Sessions

Note: our Tyrannosaurus cannot appear at this year’s signing session because her tiny hands are incapable of signing things. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Saturday, 1:00 PM. Make Your Own Burgess Shale Type Fauna

A fun, hands-on workshop for all ages! With our tinkertoy-like construction materials, learn how to make a life-sized scale model of any creature in the Cambrian Explosion you please, from trilobites to giant carnivorous shrimp. Five eyes? Fourteen rubbery noodle legs with spines on top? No problem! Let your imagination run wild; Mother Nature is already wilder.

Saturday, 3:00 PM. Reading

A joint reading by Ada Hoffmann and Merc Rustad. Last year’s reading was so excellent that half the audience was never heard from again. Can we top that performance this year? Come on in and find out.

Saturday, 5:00 PM. The Social History of Paleontology.

Paleontology is ultimately an activity done for humans, by humans. This panel answers your questions about our socially constructed ideas of dinosaurs. How did dinosaurs get so much more press than other creatures? What causes some children to latch onto them so hard? Why do meat-eating dinosaurs get more attention than plant-eaters? Can discussions of dinosaurs be ageist, sizeist, militaristic and sexist? Of course they can. Our panelists enlighten you.

Saturday, 8:00 PM. Karaoke

Consisting entirely of Katy Perry’s song “Roar”, accompanied by hadrosaurs.

Sunday, 3:00 PM. Apex Predator Beauty Pageant

Mirror, mirror on the wall: who is REALLY the most gorgeously badass killing machine of them all? Cheer for raptor packs, tyrannosaurs, cave bears, giant squid, megalodons, Terror Birds, giant crocodiles, those massive armored fish from the early Devonian, and many even stranger creatures as they compete on a range of challenges for strength, deadliness, cunning, visual appeal, and sheer personality. Contestants are strictly prohibited from eating the audience! We promise. Ha ha.

Ad Astra 2015 schedule

I loved Ad Astra so much last year that I signed up to do it again! …With even more panels! And a reading! And a signing session which I don’t remember signing up for, because who is even going to want things signed by me, but maybe I did? EEP.

If you’re in the area, here is the official schedule of Things At Which I Will Be Expected To Say Words:

Saturday, April 11

Genre Crossing: Please Watch for Slow Moving Pathetic Fallacies

Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Room: Oakridge

Sometimes you just want to read, write or direct a paranormal romance during the robot uprising on the medieval planet of urban fariy hipsters.

Signing Sessions

Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Rooms: Richmond A, Richmond B

Formatting, Style and Sticking it to the Man

Time: 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Room: Oakridge

Where do you draw the line between personal style and compromising? What is a “voice” versus “extraneous undisciplined spasms of words”?

The Big Bang Theory: Revenge of the Nerds or Geeksploitation?

Time: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Room: Aurora

There has been mixed reaction to TBBT in the SF fandom community. When the show first aired some hailed it as a breakthrough—there “we” were every week on TV! But not long after a backlash began: there “we” were every week on TV, the butt of the joke. Or are we? Are you a geek or nerd who loves TBBT? Are you a geek or nerd who loathes TBBT? Are you laughing with or at Sheldon, Howard, Raj, and Leonard? As TV’s idea of geeks are they portrayed as heroes or just hapless? Let’s discuss opinions of the show—ours and those of some insightful media commentators—and decide where we stand on The Big Bang Theory.

Readings: Ada Hoffmann & Kate Heartfield

Time: 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Room: Unionville


Sunday, April 12

Body and Person in SF: Identity and Diversity

Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Room: Oakridge

North American literature has never been great at portraying diversity. What is new is also weird, what is alternative is considered faddish or rebellious. When it comes to people in SF/F it is extremely difficult to write about identity and diversity in a casual way. Our bodies are political spaces and each word has to be chosen with care – or so we have been taught.

Mental Health and Fandom

Time: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Room: Markham B

Fans don’t talk about it. Literature hardly acknowledges it. TV and Film generally ignore, mock or misrepresent it. Is it really so hard to talk about?

 

New Canadian Noir launch, March 31

If anybody wants to see me read a scene from “Lady Blue and the Lampreys”, while eating pub food and drinks, and maybe buying a copy – or if you’re interested in seeing David Menear, Michael Mirolla, Kelly Robson, or Michael S. Chong do the same things – you can come to the Toronto launch on March 31, at 7:30 (food and drinks available starting at 6:15) at the Dora Keogh, 141 Danforth Avenue, Toronto.

Or you can sit at your computer enviously because you can’t make it to Toronto that day. Or whatever, really. 😛