“In this well-written book Judith Newman has expressed some views that are rather at at odds with the set of values and ideals that is taking shape among autistic self advocates today. The result is a very polarized response to the book. Autistic people who recall their own childhoods are horrified at the depictions here, even as non autistic parents of autistic children have praised the book. This shows how strikingly different the lived experience of autism can be from the takeaways of those who only watch us.
“I understand how autistic people find some of Newman’s ideas disturbing – I am autistic myself. But I also understand where her thinking comes from, and if we autistic people wish to change these dialogues, we need to read and understand first.
“For example, the author talks about her autistic son in ways autistic readers find extremely ableist and problematic, and she expresses what they see as frightening plans and expectations for his future. But what are we do do about that? In my opinion the ideas expressed in this book are widespread among non autistic parents and if we autistic people want a different tomorrow we need to broaden understanding and change those ideas in others. That’s got to start by recognizing they are there and how to change them
“I think books like Siri With Love are worth reading and discussing for that reason, however troubling you may find some of its ideas. If you are a reader who fully supports Ms. Newman’s position I would encourage you to read some of the newer writing from actual autistic people as both sides of the discussion deserve to be heard.” — John Elder Robison