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Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking 2015-02-05

Book Type
  1. Paperback
Autism Self_advocacy Network's collection, with contributions from Jim Sinclair, Cal Montgomery, Ari Ne'eman, Corina Becker, Zoe Gross, Amanda F. Vivian, Julia Bascom, Bev Harp, Amy Sequenzia, Nick Walker, Steve Silberman, Paula Durbin-Westby, Anonymous, and others
Loud Hands begins with a pun: the loud hands of a stim becoming the loud hands on the keyboard. "Having loud hands is about being proudly Autistic, starting from the basic, foundational idea that there is nothing wrong with us."--quoted from the submissions page of the Loud Hands Project website.

It opens with a dedication to 36 children "and all of the names we may never know" and the hope that they rest in peace. One was six months old and died at the hands of his mother because he was believed autistic. The oldest was 22.

It starts with an essay: "Don't Mourn for Us," in which Jim Sinclair argues that autism is not death, but is grieved by parents as if it were; that relationships are possible between allistic parent and autistic child if certain assumptions are acknowledged and certain expectations are adjusted.

It explains how the Autism Network International (ANI) became an organization by, for, and about autism, showing that you don't have to be allistic to run a successful organization or create a solid community. The key? Leveraging the different strengths of other aspies...which is exactly how teamwork happens among NTs.

It publishes Ari Ne'eman's essay, which the Autism Speaks Association's The Advocate wouldn't publish, because Ne'eman disputes the "cure paradigm."

It refutes Rainman as a symbol. Amy Sequenzia's brief essay "Non-Speaking, Low Functioning" describes what she needs from people to make her value known to people, the simple common sense of respecting dignity when it's packaged differently. And the awe and wonder of connecting with a truly different, obviously human, mind.

Nick Walker studies how culture changes its point of view--known as "paradigm shifts." He uses ordinary language to demystify the academic process that moves AS from an abnormal and defective state to the same diversity we struggle to extend to race, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Zoe Gross's scathing examination of how dividing autism from personhood exposes how advertising uses metaphors from military, clinical, and deadly metaphors rob aspies of humanity because they can't be separated from their neurodiversity. She shows pictures.

The letter, "Dear Younger Self" is a love song to the unloved.

The section "What They Do To Us" focuses on how people disturbed by stims damage those whose stimming is more obvious. Julia Bascom's essay "Quiet Hands" takes us on a slow descent into silence when those of us who speak with our hands are asked, ordered, forbidden, and finally physically prevented from using our hands. "Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say."

It closes by explaining why autism awareness is necessary but not sufficient, what advocacy, especially self-advocacy looks like, and closes with Anne Foreman's essay "On World Autism Awareness Day:"

"It takes a long time to figure out that you're not the reason you aren't real...When they laugh, keep yelling. When they tie your soul up and cut it out and dump it in a corner, keep yelling. If a(n autistic) shark stops stimming, it will die. Don't stop stimming."
Additional Links
andromedialogic.tumblr.com, http://autreat.com/other_sites.html
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Latest reviews

I read the preview pages on Amazon. Fantastic. I am ordering this book for myself & copies as gifts for several family members. Eye opening, & so touching. Every person who knows an autistic person should read this book. (I'm still teary eyed. And I am not a big crier.)
I had the same reaction. I couldn't read it all at once. I'll add a line or two for other essays as I get through them. Most of all, I have to process the emotions I feel, the anger, the despair, and above all, the fact that I recognized myself in these pages in a way I didn't anywhere else. --A4H
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