Judith Newman Responds to Autistic Activists About #BoycottToSiri On FB | Gallery

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John Elder Robison reviews #ToSiriWithLove with courtesy—despite being triggered by the book: “I’d say the author’s attitudes toward her son, her family, & #autism appear to be at odds with the set of values & ideals that is taking shape among #autistic self advocates today.”

(Robison also takes the time to make much of the author’s son Gus’s autistic awesomeness, which is lovely.)

http://jerobison.blogspot.com/…/thoughts-on-to-siri-with-lo… -SR

[image: The cover of the book To Siri With Love, with a light-medium-blue background, the words “To Siri With Love” in white informal all-caps text, and a photo of a young white boy sitting in the middle of the words, wearing a baseball cap and seen from above.]



Judith Newman John, first of all, I want to thank you for reading my book. When someone reads and criticizes, I listen. There are just a few things I want to say. First of all, you say that I dismiss Gus’ relatinship with Siri. I do not. I think it has been something important to him and his life in many ways. I never say it was shallow, and I never say his relationship with non-humans is shallow.

What I do is try to explain it to a non-autistic audience, which this book is written for. I don’t think I need to tell you this, but many non-autistic people think the autist’s relationship to machinery is weird. I tried to explain what it is, just as I tried to explain many things the average person doesn’t know. 
John Elder RobisonJohn Elder Robison I’m not surprised that you say Gus’s relationship with Siri is not shallow, but that is how it came across to me and others in the book.
Judith Newman Judith Newman What I do say is that it’s a bridge to communication with people. Maybe the objection is that autistic people think it is complete and sufficient in itself. But tell me, am I wrong to want him to be able to communicate more effectively and expressively to humans?

Emily Paige Ballou Emily Paige Ballou No, but it’s what HE wants that really matters. If it’s a bridge to being more able to communicate with other humans, that’s good.See More



 

 

Judith Newman Judith Newman When I wrote this he was 13 and 14, and definitely much, much less aware than he is now. The simple truth is that I know my son, and the people shouting threats that I should die and that I’m a monster at me do not. I also want to say that I do not apologize about writing my thoughts and fears in a memoir. I worry that my son won’t be able to take care of a child of his own. I worry about that very very much. I am entitled to write about that worry. That is not the same thing as being a eugenicist, and wanting to rid the world of autistic DNA. I can’t emphasize this enough: the world would be a lesser place without neurodiverse people in it. It is MY particular child, with HIS particular set of issues (which include having much older parents who won’t be here as a support system) that make me voice concerns about his reproductive future. (Not to mention the fact that he is still hazy on how reproduction works). Until recently he was adamant that he didn’t want to have children, since he thought of himself as a baby. It’s onlyin the last month that he actually said to me that “maybe” he wants kids. And that’s good enough for me. It is my job to help him get everything he wants and needs for a successful happy life. But that doesn’t mean I can’t write realistically about what he is facing in this world.
John Elder Robison John Elder Robison The threats and shouting are disturbing to me too. Even if people disagree with you they should engage in reasoned discourse if they ever hope to achieve mutual understanding.

The Thinking Person's Guide to AutismThe Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism We do not condone violence or threats, and remove any such comments in our forum. If we have missed any, please let us know. -SR

Emily Paige Ballou Emily Paige Ballou Judith, I think a lot of parents have these worries, and not only parents of autistic/disabled kids. It isn’t just your kid and his particular set of issues. LOTS of parents have these concerns.
And to an extent, yes, I think they have a right to voice concerns…and there are ways to do that that don’t severely compromise your child’s dignity and right to privacy and to be seen as a person with bodily autonomy and agency over their own future.
Emily Paige BallouEmily Paige Ballou “When I wrote this he was 13 and 14, and definitely much, much less aware than he is now… Until recently he was adamant that he didn’t want to have children, since he thought of himself as a baby. It’s only in the last month that he actually said to me that “maybe” he wants kids.”

Whether or not I accept that as true, though I well accept he may’ve seemed so, you’re kind of demonstrating exactly what your book’s detractors are saying…that you cannot predict from what an autistic kid’s capabilities and motivations might seem like when they’re young what they might be when they’re even slightly older, or what they’ll be aware of.
And at some point, your son is most likely going to be aware of what you wrote about him.
Judith NewmanJudith Newman Emily, I want him to be aware of what I wrote. I pray that one day he will read it, and ask questions, and I can say: this is how you were at a certain point in time. Memoirs are by their nature revealing. Write honestly, or don’t accept the paycheck. Perhaps you are asking: Did he give consent? I told him I was writing all about him. I told him what I was writing. Whether he understood that is another matter. I do know that he is an extrovert, and the attention has given him pleasure. He grabs copies of the book when people have tried to get me to sign, and signed them himself.
Judith NewmanJudith Newman Memoir is by its nature risk taking…with yourself, with those you love.
Emily Paige Ballou Emily Paige Ballou “I pray that one day he will read it, and ask questions, and I can say: this is how you were at a certain point in time.”
And it may also be that he says “No, that’s not how I was. That’s what you decided to see.”
Judith Newman Emily Paige Ballou . Possibly. But how does that make him different from any other child whose parents have written about him/her?
Judith Newman Judith Newman If we didn’t write about other people as well as ourselves, there would be no memoir.
Elliott Sky Case Elliott Sky Case Something tells me the majority of this group isn’t particularly invested in the survival of parenting memoirs.

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