“Living with Autism Shouldn’t Be Hard”
In the concluding chapter, it is proposed that while dialogue, music, poetry, and storytelling—collectively the lifeblood of this work—should by no means be regarded as substitutes for progressive public policy or impactful legislation in the ongoing struggle for autistic rights, they are nevertheless valuable in their own right and can pave the way toward new policies and laws that make a real, positive difference. Conversation, in particular, is singled out for its capacity to help us “find common ground from which to move forward in common purpose toward the common good” while distancing us from “the tragic patterns of divisiveness, prejudice, intolerance, and denial of the humanity of others that darken the record of human history at every turn.” For conversation to foster such gains, however, our discourses must be approached with a commitment to really listening to what other people have to say. The greatest hope that the author and his collaborators have for this book, it is stated, is that its conversations and stories will ultimately “contribute in some meaningful way to making a future world that not only accepts neurodiversity but celebrates it as a hallmark of our shared humanity.” The work concludes with, first, a quotation from Hans Asperger emphasizing the importance of deeply engaged, compassionate conversation in his work with autistic children and, second, a closing poem from Mara Chasar, who suggests that however grave the challenges faced by autistic people may be, to be accepted, inspired, and loved by others will go a long way toward meeting them.
Keywords: disability rights movement, “Nothing about us without us” (slogan), listening, autistic personhood, autistic musicality, Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky), thinking in music, empathy, Hans Asperger, love
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