Sensory: Life on the Spectrum: An Autistic Comics Anthology edited by Rebecca Ollerton was organized for autism acceptance month in 2021. It started as a Kickstarter campaign and was eventually traditionally published with Andrews McMeel and circulated around the world. Now that we’ve talked the nitty-gritty, let’s get into how/why this title caught my eye.
First off, I am a sucker for comics anthologies. I love being introduced to new writers’ styles and seeing what they choose to focus on. Thirty autistic creators contributed to this anthology, talking about a wide variety of topics related to autism and their own journeys, such as self-diagnosis, masking, and autistic joy. This isn’t a graphic novel talking JUST about the happy though. Many of the autistic people in this book do share how they love their life or how they have come to accept that autism is an inherent part of who they are. However, there are also stories from artists sharing their discomfort (or at times, their hatred) of being autistic. I appreciated that this story shared stories from a wide variety of experiences. I also loved how there were multiple different autistic perspectives shared and how they didn’t agree on the ‘correct’ autistic terminology. The different experiences, perspectives, and emotions made this book more realistic and authentic to me versus if it had been exclusively positive or negative.
Second, I found this title in our Literacy Collection when I was looking for resources on autism from autistic people. I specifically was looking for input on identity first language(autistic person) vs people first language(person with autism). I had found a resource from the Autistic Not Weird Autism Survey 2022 that talked about how the majority of autistic people prefer identity first language. It’s been an interesting research journey and I wanted to see where this book would take me.
Third, I wanted to see how perspectives were highlighted in the neurodivergent world versus how they perceive the allistic(people not on the autism spectrum) world. Emotions ran high in some of the stories, which is necessary as those emotions can be healing and start new conversations. I also wanted to check my privileges and perceptions as an allistic person and see how I can adjust my actions to be more inclusive. This book was an interesting read as it had something for every different neurotype. Definite recommend if you want to expand your thinking and inclusiveness.
Sensory: Life on the Spectrum can be found in the Literacy Collection at our Main and Fairmount Street locations.
Written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley, The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin, is a children’s biography told in rhyme about the inimitable Temple Grandin. If you’re not familiar with Temple, she has single-handedly created more awareness around animal welfare (specifically the lives of farm animals) than just about any other person. She is practically a household name and tours the country giving talks and presentations. There’s even a movie about her starring Claire Danes! Grandin has long advocated for “humane slaughter”, a phrase animal liberation advocates would argue is contradictory; but she nonetheless prescribes standards for facilities design and proper restraint and stunning techniques that are intended to cause the least amount of pain and suffering in the animals being slaughtered. You can check out Temple’s website to learn more about the extensive work she has done in the field.
In The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin, author Mosca discusses Grandin’s childhood as a person with autism and her deep connection with animals. Temple did not speak until age three or after, and, apparently, doctors initially told Temple’s mother they suspected she had “no brain activity”. Soon after being kicked out of school, Temple moves out west with her aunt, an owner of a ranch, and it isn’t long before Temple serendipitously embarks on her lifelong journey as an animal scientist and public speaker. She has worked tirelessly to create change in the practice of animal agriculture that is in compliance with the highest ethical standards after many years of communing with and studying the behavior of animals. Additionally, her persistence helps to create and foster an understanding of people who fall along the autism spectrum and to demonstrate that being autistic should not hold you back from a life of happiness and success.
The takeaways in this book are many:
- Humans are dismissive of what we don’t understand
- We can learn to listen to others who speak a language that is different than our own
- We nonetheless still have a myopic and narrow view of human intelligence and cognitive ability
- Animals feel emotion and pain
- We should not be defined by others but instead strive to live an authentic life
- We can and should advocate for those whose voices are not heard
- We should leave things better than how we found them
And last but definitely not least: persist, persist, persist! There are certainly many, many more morals of the story, but you’ll have to read the book to see for yourself. Personally, I was inspired while reading this picture book and think children would also find this an uplifting story. Plus, children are often more sensitive and receptive to the plight of animals than many adults–so we have much to learn from them!
Did this Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony leave you interested in checking out some of the winners? We have a lot of them at our three locations!
Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical: The Kids Are All Right
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture Made for Television: Claire Danes in Temple Grandin
Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical: Glee (also honored were Supporting Actor Chris Colfer and Supporting Actress Jane Lynch)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical: Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama: Katey Sagal for Sons of Anarchy
Lots of the other winners haven’t been released on DVD yet, so keep checking back to see if we have them!