No, I don’t do this, but I can point you at people who do.

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I think a lot of people come here looking for information about autism, or about “how autism affects me”. Because that’s how I’ve been presented to the world a number of times, and it’s also what’s generally expected as autistic people’s role in life. Some of the people who come here looking for that seem to get very angry about the fact that I’m not exactly as advertised (by others). Others seem to have been happy about it. But anyway.

While I do talk about some of that stuff, it’s not really my main focus here. But there are a lot of autistic people where it is their main focus. And I collect books by autistic people. I’ve been meaning to make a searchable index of them for years, and it just hasn’t happened. My skills don’t seem to run in that direction.

But people have always asked me “Is there a book on this sort of thing?” or “Is there a book by this sort of autistic person?” and so forth. And I’ve usually been able to come up with a book, or a whole list of books.

So I’ve come up with a page for it. That page is called I can help you look for books by autistic people. If you want to ask about it, please go to that page ( http://ballastexistenz.autistics.org/?page_id=483 ), please do not post your comment on the post I’m writing right now. Please be as specific as possible about what you want, so that it is easier for me to look for it. If I do not mention something in my answer, other people can feel free to chime in with other books that fit the question. There are books I can’t afford yet, so that will probably be inevitable.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

14 responses »

  1. Wonderful idea! I have a collection of books by Autistics, and books (some fantastic ones, and some really shit ones…) about ASDs too. It would be nice to have an organized resource about the subject available online, but that’s very time consuming since the list of Autistic literature is increasing… which is a good thing too.

  2. Amanda, I credit you for helping turn me around. I used to pity you, my son and even myself. Because you took the time to put “Getting the Truth Out” and your videos together, I learned a great deal.

  3. Brittany: I’m wondering, still, how to manage actually coming up with some kind of online indexed system of these things.

    And I mean heavily indexed. I want people to be able to easily look up, for instance, books by autistic people with a strong interest in Dr. Who, and pop up a genuinely accurate response.

    I used to work in my church’s library, and get equally frustrated with the sort of one-dimensional categorization system we had there.

    On the other hand, tags seem too far in the other direction. I’d like to see something on the order of title/author/subject/date/etc.

    Only instead of title/author/subject/date/etc, and stopping there, there should be more things like different properties of the author, their interests, topics discussed within the book, general format or formats of the book, intended audience, and all sorts of information of that nature.

    I’m just eternally frustrated that it doesn’t work that way. Right now, you could ask me the Dr. Who question, and I’d find one book right away, and then find a couple other books I thought were likely to say that and then check them to make sure. On the other hand, if you asked me “What are the interests of people in the books?” I’d draw a complete blank.

    It’s like saying the name of an interest triggers the location of the books (or of likely books, and then I can just skim those), but just asking “What are the interests?” doesn’t trigger any knowledge at all.

    It’s also hard to know what kind of level to stop at. For instance, should it be “Dr. Who”?

    Should Dr. Who be under a larger category called television shows? And should television shows and movies be in the same category (such as “television and film”), such that I can also have someone else’s Wizard of Oz interest in the same another-larger category? Etc. I want it to be searchable at all levels of detail from broad to detailed, and I want it to be organized in such a way that it will not be hard to search.

    Arrrrrrgh, where’s (a) someone competent to search out these things, (b) someone who can actually look through all the books I have, and (c) a real librarian who’s probably studied how to do all this, when I need them?!? :-P

    And to make matters more interesting, I have a book by a woman apparently diagnosed with the same movement disorder I have — a fact I didn’t know when I bought it — but it’s in German, so I can barely read it. (I can get the amount of German that I can get through having unconsciously absorbed root words in several languages that are cousins to or descendants of German, but I am not even close to fluent.) I have tried many times to get through it, but it is extremely slow and it gives me headaches. Thing is, while I know other published authors with the same diagnoses, I don’t know any who discuss it in their published works.

  4. Amanda,
    To attempt to answer your Arrrgh! question:
    This sounds like a project for a grad student in library science or information science – seriously. A lot of grad students have to do projects outside of the classroom in order to complete grad-level coursework. Your library gets organized the way you need, and the student gets course credit, so the cost to you is free. If there’s a university anywhere near you, or anyone in this online community is or knows a library/info science student, then this would be a very cool project IMHO because there are a lot of theories/accepted standards on how people search for information, but those are based on well-studied presumably-NT behaviors. I wonder how folks with different-organized thought processes and sensory issues would match and diverge from those theories? I’d bet there’s a great project in there for some intrepid researcher. If I were still in school, I’d take it on in a heartbeat! Anyway, best of luck with the library.

  5. Amanda:
    I can see where that will be a problem! My only suggestion to you is stretch out this project over time. Don’t rush into creating an index, when you have your whole life time to do it. Offering books to others is a great start. You’ll become more familiar with the reading by doing so, and you might come up with a way to organize the books easier. When you say “index,” first thing that comes to mind is a giant search engine.
    It also sounds as if this is a project for more than one person… :-(

  6. Amanda,

    It’s a great idea and much needed.

    Here is a book by an autistic author from a small publisher which you may not be aware of:

    “Discovering Who I Am: Growing up in the sensory world of Asperger syndrome – an autobiography”, by Elkie Kammer, published by Brandon Press, Inverness, Scotland (2007) ISBN 978 0 9554895 0 1.

  7. How about including videos by autistic auteurs (if that is the correct term)

    I have just got one called autism and me by Rory Hoy that I have not had a chance to look at yet.

    Well I suppose though that opens the floodgates because you would have to include everything autistically authored and authorized on posautive too, you’d even have to include yourself.

    Eek spectres of the catalogue of books including the index of itself here. Wittgenstein you beery swine you, or was it Russell he of the square and hotel?

  8. Hey Amanda,
    your blog is a really great resource. I work with children with ASD and their families. You have given me greater perspective and an amazing resource to pass along.
    Best to you!
    Erin

  9. Thank you so much for your intimate contribution to understanding communication between humans. I was able to clearly see bits of my self, and am greatful for that feeling of at one ment.

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