Friday Fun: #Ownvoices & National Autism Acceptance Month
Good morning readers! The month of April is National Autism Awareness month, though it should be noted there is a push for Autism Acceptance Month. There are a lot of preconceptions and misconceptions about Autism, a big one being that Autism is a vast scale that science is still trying to fully understand. There are different layers of functionality within that scale, from high functioning, fully integrated adults to adults that have great difficulty functioning independently. The scope of the Autism scale means that many people aren't even diagnosed until they are adults, having spent a childhood layered by misunderstandings of self and social structures.
As the author of this post, I am the mother to two neurodiverse boys who have vastly different placements on the Autism scale. This is a bittersweet month for me because while I do celebrate my boys every month, I am keenly aware of the lack of resources and aid available to children and adults on spectrum. I am keenly aware of the lack of programs and supports available to a population who needs it most. And during the pandemic, that lack of access was magnified. Which is shocking when the number of diagnoses for ASD has risen to 1 in 54 children in the United States as of 2020.
It is my greatest wish for them to see more and more of themselves reflected with care and consideration in the media they consume. In the past few years there has been a push forward for diversity but authentic #ownvoices representation is a hill we are still climbing on all fronts.
#Ownvoices Neurodiverse Reads
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit
Vivy Cohen wants to play baseball. Ever since her hero, Major League star pitcher VJ Capello, taught her how to throw a knuckleball at a family fun day for kids with autism, she's been perfecting her pitch. And now she knows she's ready to play on a real team. When her social skills teacher makes her write a letter to someone she knows, she writes to VJ and tells him everything about how much she wants to pitch, and how her mom says she can't because she's a girl and because she has autism. And then two amazing things happen: Vivy meets a Little League coach who invites her to join his team, the Flying Squirrels. And VJ starts writing back.
The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla
Charlie wishes his life could be as predictable and simple as chicken nuggets.
And it usually is. He has his clean room, his carefully organized bird books and art supplies, his favorite foods, and comfortable routines.
But life has been unraveling since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan. And when Dad gets sent across country for medical treatment, Charlie must reluctantly travel to meet him. With his boy-crazy sister, unruly twin brothers, and a mysterious new family friend at the wheel, the journey looks anything but smooth.
So Charlie decides to try and spot all the birds that he and his dad had been hoping to see together in the wild. If he can complete the Someday Birds list for Dad, then maybe, just maybe, things will turn out okay...
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens
This anthology explores disability in fictional tales told from the viewpoint of disabled characters, written by disabled creators. With stories in various genres about first loves, friendship, war, travel, and more, Unbroken will offer today's teen readers a glimpse into the lives of disabled people in the past, present, and future.
The contributing authors are awardwinners, bestsellers, and newcomers including Kody Keplinger, Kristine Wyllys, Francisco X. Stork, William Alexander, Corinne Duyvis, Marieke Nijkamp, Dhonielle Clayton, Heidi Heilig, Katherine Locke, Karuna Riazi, Kayla Whaley, Keah Brown, and Fox Benwell. Each author identifies as disabled along a physical, mental, or neurodiverse axis―and their characters reflect this diversity.
Also highly Recommend Editor Marieke Nijkamp's Even if We Break
Odd Girl Out by Laura James
From childhood, Laura James knew she was different. She struggled to cope in a world that often made no sense to her, as though her brain had its own operating system. It wasn't until she reached her forties that she found out why: Suddenly and surprisingly, she was diagnosed with autism.
With a touching and searing honesty, Laura challenges everything we think we know about what it means to be autistic. Married with four children and a successful journalist, Laura examines the ways in which autism has shaped her career, her approach to motherhood, and her closest relationships. Laura's upbeat, witty writing offers new insight into the day-to-day struggles of living with autism, as her extreme attention to sensory detail--a common aspect of her autism--is fascinating to observe through her eyes.
As Laura grapples with defining her own identity, she also looks at the unique benefits neurodiversity can bring. Lyrical and lush, Odd Girl Out shows how being different doesn't mean being less, and proves that it is never too late for any of us to find our rightful place in the world.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...
Resources & Further Reading (Find more #ownvoice Reads here!)