April is Autism Month – Autism Awareness Month to some, and Autism Acceptance Month to others, and sometimes just the annoying month where we have to listen to more Autism Speaks propaganda than usual – so there’s been a lot of news!
Shannon des Roches Rosa has been making some good 101 posts this month at The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism:
Pan-disability politics and policy, from the US:
- Michelle Diament on how new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch deals with disability cases
- S.E. Smith on why more disabled people are employed in some US states than others
- The U.S. Supreme Court recently made an important decision about disability and the death penalty. (For anyone who needs more evidence about why representation in fiction matters, this article describes how the state of Texas has literally been evaluating people’s eligibility for the death penalty based on their resemblance to a fictional character.)
- Elsa Sjunesson-Henry on protesting while disabled
From Canada and the UK:
Posts about ABA:
Media and writing:
- Lifestyle Solutions, an Australian nonprofit that manages group homes for disabled people, is under investigation for abuse and neglect causing a series of deaths. (TW: In addition to what it says on the can, there is also mention of sexual assault. I have not watched the video that accompanies the article but, based on the description, would not recommend doing so.)
- Amelia Hill interviews three autistic mothers of autistic children (TW: all three mothers discuss, among other things, a fear of social services taking their children away; abuse by third parties is also mentioned.)
For mental health reasons (I’m fine now, I just got overloaded by world events for a bit) I did not collect autism news during the months of January and February. I will not be making any attempt to retroactively collect news from this time: today’s Autism News post is for the news cycle starting March 1. Thanks for understanding.
Let’s start this cycle off with some political content: an ASAN toolkit on contacting your elected representatives.
Media and reviews:
About fun and play:
- M. Yergeau on the rhetoric of filicide. (Um, this post is GRAPHIC. Take the filicide TW SERIOUSLY, please. If you can stomach it, it says some important things.)
- Lisa Daxer’s Autism Memorial has two new entries for autistic people who were killed this March:  
U.S. politics news:
- On Buzzfeed, 13 disabled activists talk about their reactions to the American election
- ASAN is joining the newly formed Modern Medicaid Alliance, advocating for the importance of Medicaid in American disabled people’s lives
- ASAN statement on the nomination of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General, and why this nomination is dangerous for disabled people (among others)
- The state of Michigan passed legislation to severely restrict and regulate the use of restraint and seclusion on K-12 students. (TW: descriptions of specific instances of restraint and other ableist treatment)
Posts about self-advocacy:
Sad Things Other Than Trump:
- The people who killed Alex Spourdalakis were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, even though the killing was premeditated.
Well, I haven’t made an Autism News post since before the American election, so we need to address that. All of you have presumably already read a million thinkpieces about the election, but there is less being spread around from a disabled point of view than from some others, so here are some important election-related posts by disabled people.
(Note: I’m not completely sure how to TW this section properly. Please assume, as with the Sad Things section, that everything that sounds like it might be negative/triggering is what it says on the can.)
But not all of us live in the US! Here are some slightly less terrible things that are happening in the UK.
Some useful psychological information:
Some posts about personal experiences:
Some activism, and some posts about how to do activism:
- Autism Speaks removed the word “cure”, and many other pathologizing/stigmatizing terms, from their mission statement. (While this change is too little too late for many autistic people, it’s still really interesting news!)
- Brent White and Lindsey Anderson give a presentation on understanding and coping with meltdowns.
And finally, the Sad Things section. (Or should that be Sad Things Other Than Trump?)
- The fire in California which killed four disabled men and their caregiver has been confirmed to be arson-related, and potentially a murder-suicide.
- Lisa Daxer’s Autism Memorial logged six known times in October and November when autistic people were killed for being autistic:      
I’ve been so busy that somehow there wasn’t an Autism News post since June. But news has been accruing at an astonishing rate! So we’re going to have a REALLY BIG news post today. Hold on to your hats.
- Lydia Brown on the intersection of autistic and trans experience.
- A Fusion video on the intersection of race and autism
- Dani Alexis Ryskamp on emotional labor and autistic women. [I’m really glad to see an article on this topic; I’ve been wondering about autistic people’s experience of emotional labor ever since I was introduced to the concept.]
Science and technology:
Some writing advice:
Some good posts about ableism:
We have a doozy of a Sad Things section this time, partly because of a few well-publicized cases of attacks on autistic people in the news. A man named Charles Kinsey was shot by police in the US, who later claimed they had meant to shoot the autistic person Kinsey was caring for. Meanwhile, an autistic man named Abdirahman Abdi was killed by police in Canada. A person in Japan performed a mass shooting in a facility for disabled people, claiming he wanted a future without disabled people in it. An autistic boy named Austin Anderson in the US who was killed by his mother also made the news.
The Charles Kinsey case got enough media attention to merit its own section:
Meanwhile, other sad things:
Posts about childcare and education:
Sadly, the murder of autistic people by their caregivers is back in the news again, so here’s a section about that. Everything in this section has the usual TWs that you would expect given the topic.
With an important autism research conference coming up, Shannon des Roches Rosa and Carol Greenburg have put together a recommended reading list for people attending a conference and wanting to be able to think critically about autism research.
The provincial government of Ontario in Canada recently changed its rules for what kinds of autism therapy it will pay for and at what ages. A lot of parents are up in arms about it. Here’s Anne McGuire, Patty Douglas, and Estée Klar explaining why both sides of the debate are wrong when it comes to actually respecting autistic people. (As a resident of Ontario who has seen a lot of local NTs throwing around articles and petitions about this issue lately, I was very grateful for this article.)
Posts about traits, impairments, and accommodations:
Posts about attitudes and social change:
And in other news, the Disability in Kidlit team is still doing important work:
Today is a very big Autism News post! Partly because I procrastinated harder than usual, but also because there is genuinely a lot of autism stuff in the news, especially as we gear up for the Awareness/Acceptance Month of April.
Since everyone is lighting it up different colors for autism right now, we should probably start with Real Social Skills’ post on what autism awareness means to them.
There was a lot in the news lately about euthanasia, murder, death in general, and other medical problems for disabled people. Everything in this section has a TW for these and related topics.
Meanwhile, autistic self-advocate John Elder Robison wrote a book about his experiences with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
- Here is a post by Robison about his book, and on the difference between “having feelings” and “reading social cues”
- Sonia Boue lists objections that many autistic people are raising to the promotion of TMS in Robison’s book
- This interview with Robison responds to some of these objections, and goes into more depth on Robison’s feelings about the potential risks and drawbacks of TMS.
Posts about adult diagnosis:
Pan-disability posts for the SFF crowd!
Other pan-disability posts:
- Erin Human on why she says “disabled”, not “special needs”
- Feminist Aspie on food policing
- Clarissa Krikpe on community living for people with high-support/ developmental disabilities. (Note: There is a lot of parent-centric language in this article, but if you can deal with that, it has some pretty interesting information.)
- Karen Hitselberger on why the “How Do You See Me?” campaign doesn’t work
Posts about books, writing, and media:
Events in the actual news:
- For the first time, a U.S. court ruled that it was illegal to pay disabled workers less than minimum wage in sheltered workshops.
- Shannon des Roches Rosa on Hillary Clinton’s autism plan
- Kayden Clarke, an autistic self-advocate whose video about a support dog went viral, joins the long list of autistic people killed by police.
A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Bartmess wrote the best post on autistic representation I have ever seen. In academia, we would call this a “survey paper”: it lists and categorizes all the most common problems with autistic characters in fiction (along with links to book reviews that show each of the problems in action), then links to non-fiction articles explaining why each one is a problem, what real-life problems and narratives it connects to, and what we would like to see instead. It’s geared towards writers of YA/MG fiction, so the examples are drawn from YA, but every single point is a thing that crops up in fiction for adults as well.
I am not joking when I say this is REQUIRED READING. From now on, whenever someone asks me how to write an autistic character without failing, I am linking them to this post FIRST.
Here are some other good posts on How To Do Activism:
There was a protest called #CrippingTheMighty recently against a site called The Mighty, which aggregates disability-related content in sometimes problematic ways (inspiration porn, “warrior moms”, etc). Here is an overview of #CrippingTheMighty (with more links!) by Savannah Lodgson-Breakstone.
- Dani Alexis Ryskamp on why The Mighty should also be paying its writers
- Although The Mighty has had issues for some time, a lot of the talk in #CrippingTheMighty was triggered by a specific problematic post. Shannon des Roches Rosa and others at the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism have a very important point here about that post’s author, who is autistic herself and has apologized.