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.