Today’s question is from Eve Prime:

Could you recommend any works that you think do a good job of conveying to NT people the inner lives of people on the spectrum? Ideally a short-story collection/anthology, since there are so many possible ways to experience life and autism.

Answer: Yes!

If you want a full set of my opinions on various works then you should click here and look at the “Recommended” section.

But that’s a boring answer. I don’t know of a single short-story collection/anthology that meets this need. (I’ve heard very good things about “Loud Hands: Autustic People Speaking” but I haven’t actually read it yet and it’s not fiction.)

If I was putting together such an anthology myself, then…

Well, no. If I was putting together such an anthology myself then I’d be running around soliciting people for new work, ferreting out people who have written good things in the past, and trying frantically to figure out a way to ensure that all the intersectionality and different experiences on the spectrum were covered without resorting to some kind of quota system. It would be a big job. It would result in a lot of stuff going into the anthology that doesn’t exist yet, or at least hasn’t existed where I can find it.

But in the absence of that, if I were to put together a mini-anthology of stuff I’ve read that expresses different aspects of the life experiences and inner perspectives of different autistic characters, then the first draft of the table of contents might look something like this.

(Can I put my stories in the table of contents? I would utterly totally not do this if I were making a real anthology, but if we’re just talking about stuff to read, I think I am going to sneak a couple in. You can totally ignore those ones if you feel this is gauche.)

  • Emily Page Ballou, “The Real Girl” and “The Imaginary Girl” [poetry: childhood, expectations, conformity]
  • Ada Hoffmann, “You Have to Follow the Rules” [fiction: childhood, special interests, being talked over]
  • Meda Kahn, “That’s Entertainment” [fiction: institutionalization, being laughed at]
  • Nicole Cipri, “A Silly Love Story” [fiction: college, romance]
  • Lucas Scheelk, “Dear Allistic, Love, Autistic” [prose poetry: romance and relationships]
  • Cynthia Kim, “Echolalia and Scripting: Straddling the Border of Functional Language” [personal essay: communication, speech, relationships]
  • Tina Gower, “Twelve Seconds” [fiction: jobs, effects of conformity training in adults]
  • Ada Hoffmann, “Turning to Stone” [poetry: sensory overload]
  • S.R. Salas, “On Being an Empath” [personal essay: empathy and social cognition]
  • Luna Lindsey, “Meltdown in Freezer Three” [fiction: animism/personification, non-verbal thinking styles]
  • Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone, “Seep” [poetry: suppression of stims and natural movement]
  • Meda Kahn, “Difference of Opinion” [fiction: very intense ableism and responses to it, forced medical procedures, being an adult and falling in love when very visibly disabled/nonspeaking, also I love this story]
  • E, “Undercover Autistic” [personal essay: navigating the world of passing and disclosure]
  • Luna Lindsey, “Touch of Tides” [fiction: jobs, research, and workplace interactions from a more outwardly successful character’s perspective]

You’ll notice that I’ve supplemented the fiction list with a few essays and blog posts available online when there was an issue I wanted to include but didn’t have a good story or poem for. And there are many more blogs and essays I could have added. If you’re paying close attention you’ll also notice that this list is not very intersectional. If you look back in my autism news posts you’ll find articles about autism and race, gender (although my list is mostly female anyway so that should give you a start on that issue), sexual orientation, and other differences. You’ll also find many good articles on what it’s like to be autistic and go through specific challenging experiences such as grief, depression, burnout, bullying, intensive ABA and childhood abuse – as well as things like parenthood, religion, and being an activist. I didn’t add all of these things to the list simply because then the number of articles on the list would have ended up overwhelming everything else, and that’s not what you asked for! But they are worth reading!

What do you guys think of this list? Do you have more story and poetry recommendations? Share ’em in the comments! If they are new to me, I might even end up reviewing them later!