Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 6 - Page 54

We have to stop thinking of autism as a kid behind a wall of puzzle pieces and start recognizing that it’s the old woman down the street who never got a diagnosis or all the autistic adults out there struggling to get by. There are so many that have tremendous gifts and no way to contribute them to society because of the limited ideas that employers have about employees. Society has to widen its views of what a worthy employee is. ----- WANTED MP: Do you see yourself as a social justice crusader? Silberman: My book is autism seen through the lens of social justice rather than through the lens of medicine, or even science. It is primarily a story of a tribe of people coming out of oppression, brutality, isolation, institutionalization, and walking into the light to claim their place at the table in society, and have a voice in their own destinies. ----- Maripat with her husband John Elder Robison and Steven Silberman The self-advocates feel that they’ve been objectified and victimized by psychiatry, and parents feel that they’ve been lied to. I think that plays into the anti-vaccine narrative because parents feel like they weren’t getting the real story of why autism spiked so dramatically in the late 90s. Silberman: I completely understand why parents are suspicious of Big Pharma. Big Pharma is not our friend. However, that’s not the story of why the autism diagnosis started spiking in the 90s, and what I tried to do was present a story that was as compelling as the anti-vaccine narrative, but true, instead of false. The real story didn’t turn out to be a story about vaccines; it turned out to be a story about two competing visions of autism in the early 20th century and how those two visions played out for decades, culminating in Lorna Wings rediscovery of the spectrum in the 70s. ----- “We have to stop thinking of autism as a kid behind a wall of puzzle pieces.” ----MP: What about the anti-vaccine movement? 54 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses MP: You and y our husband Keith have been together for a few decades; how has writing this book impacted your relationship? Silberman: Keith had to support me because the percentage of my advance ran out after about a year. His commitment to the project was more than either of us expected. His loyalty and confidence never wavered even when my own confidence was low. Keith never lost faith that I was doing something important. I can’t even put into words how grateful I am. MP: What would be your vision of a societal support system for those affected by autism? Silberman: A society that is devoted to providing to autistic people and their families happy, healthy, safe, productive, creative and engaged lives at whatever levels the autistic person can participate. SUZANNE “BEANE” CHANESMAN FOR CREATIVE & DETAIL-ORIENTED DESIGN TM Maripat Robison is an international speaker and writer, leading workshops on loving someone with autism. A retired television executive and magazine publisher, Maripat has raised two neurodiverse kids and is married to John Elder Robison. Maripat is the author of the popular blog and forthcoming book, I Married a Geek. www.beanedesign.com info@beanedesign.com ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses 55