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Embracing Chaos: The Book

  • Posted on December 2, 2011 at 8:00 AM

As some of you may recall, I want to write a book called Neurodiversity at Work. I still do, though in my recent upheaval I took a good, hard look at this goal and the skills and proficiency required to pull it off. I also looked at other autism-related books I would like to write. And I came to the inescapable conclusion that I would need to write two other books before I could broach Neurodiversity at Work with the experience, skill and connections it deserves.

When I first started this blog, I had a book in mind. It was something of a cross between a memoir and an advocacy piece. At the time, I wanted to make the idea viable for traditional publishing, and for the intervening years I didn’t see a way to do it. The audience it could be expected to reach within the first year or two of publication just wasn’t large enough, not without changing the focus of the book dramatically. For the last two years, I’ve been researching self-publication, and I find I’m drawn to it—at least as far as nonfiction goes. The relatively narrow audience for the book doesn’t matter nearly as much if the book is self-published; if you have the skill and wherewithal to market the book, you can profitably self-publish a book with a narrow audience.

So, in turning away from Neurodiversity at Work, I’ve come full-circle back to my first book. This time I’m not dwelling on how to make it marketable to a traditional publisher; I’m dwelling on how to make it a book that fulfills a need for its audience. It will never be a bestseller, and that’s fine. This book, like this blog, is for people who already care, for people who want to understand autism in a way that doesn’t reflect our fears of difference, but instead reflects our desire to understand, uplift and assist those we love who carry the diagnosis.

In outlining and writing this book, I’m taking great care to ensure one important difference that sets my book apart from so many parent books: I’m not telling my children’s stories. Of course, it’s this difference that will make it less appealing to traditional publishers. Embracing Chaos: Discovering Autism and Neurodiversity will tell my story. In this book I will describe how I came to see autism and neurodiversity, explain why I have the priorities I do when it comes to raising my children and advocating for change, and invite others to join me. I’ve seen so many books that purport to tell the stories of autistic children, while really advocating for whatever treatment or approach the parent chose for their child. Those books, the kinds of books published by traditional publishers, promise a cure, a recovery or some other conclusion that promises a semblance of normality. My book will show that normality doesn’t have to be a goal, while arming those seeking a different path with insight and resources to help smooth their journey.

But it’s not just a book for other parents. There have been so many times when I have tried to verbally explain to those on the periphery of our lives what I believe and why. Often, due to my own struggles to communicate verbally, it seems necessary to direct them to my blog and the list of blogs on my sidebar to really make the point. This is fine for those who are comfortable in the blogosphere, but many aren’t. If I had a resource, a book, that could explain it—I would gladly have directed them to that instead. And this, for me, will be that book. But while it will be my story, my journey, I also want this to be a book others can hand out to those on the periphery of their own lives. So, it’s not a traditional memoir, either. It is intended to be a source of information and understanding for those of us who refuse to take sides, or rather for those of us who feel that there are answers and truths evident in multiple arenas within the autism community. (After all, it would be disingenuous to suggest we don’t take any sides at all.)

I hope it’s well received by those for whom it is intended, by those who—like me—feel they need a resource, a reference, a tool to stave off those exhausting conversations in which we try to justify to those who mean well why we, too, are not adamantly advocating for a cure. I hope it’s also a book that adult autists might read to gain insights into us parents who, while not supporting and agreeing with everything they say or do, really are allies in our goals to make this a better world for all those deserve to be heard, appreciated, understood and accommodated.

That is my hope. Only time and publication can determine if I will achieve those goals. But I have to try. I have to set the stage. Then, I have to move on to other issues that need to be addressed.