For Autistic Pride Day this year, held on June 18th, I decided to livestream myself reading Loud Hands: Autistic People Speaking, editted by Julia Bascom, from front to back. Or at least as much as I could before my voice gave out. I shared the livestream with my local community pages on Facebook, as well as Facebook groups for autistic individuals and families. I managed to read out loud for one hour and forty minutes before my voice expired. We read Jim Sinclair’s “Don’t Mourn For Us”, and “Autism Network International: The Development of a Community and its Culture”, both being foundational documents of the autistic rights movement. When I checked the video later, I saw that the video had over 150 “engagements”; clicks. There was no way to tell how long anybody stayed on the video, but over 150 people had listened for /some/ amount of time. They might have left my stream on a tab on their computer while they were doing some other work, or listened for a few minutes, or just a few seconds. Whatever the truth, over 150 people had listened to at least a snippet of the foundations of autistic pride and autistic rights.
When somebody asks me what they should read to learn more about autistic pride, they get a waterfall. Read Loud Hands: Autistic People Speaking to learn the foundations of our movement! Read All The Weight Of Our Dreams to hear the perspectives of autistic people of colour and the intersections of disability justice and racial justice! Then read Typed Words Loud Voices to hear from non-speaking autistic people! Neurotribes to learn the history of autism from the 1920s to the 2000s! Aspergirls for autistic women!
The person may have come to me feeling curious and now feeling overwhelmed. Even asking someone to read one of these books is a ten hour commitment. They will come out of that ten hour commitment much more informed and with fresh, inspired perspectives, but often the people who are asking me this question are parents with very little free time, or fellow neurodivergent people who have little energy.
But after that day livestreaming the reading of Loud Hands: Autistic People Speaking, I had a realization. The real difference won’t be made by a few people reading the whole of Neurotribes or Aspergirls. The difference will be made by multitudes of people reading just a chapter or a few lines from it.
So Neurodiversity Storytime became a weekly event. Every saturday at 3 PM PST, I jump on my advocacy page, Neurodiversity YMM, and I livestream myself reading literature written by neurodivergent people about our experiences, our pride, our needs, our passions, and about disability justice, with permission from the author. This way, there is no commitment involved; instead of telling people what they need to read, I am walking this journey with the listener. And people only need to engage as much as they want to or are able to. You’re invited!