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Need for Scholarship

In the past, I've written that I do not want to be boxed in as "autistic autism researcher" when I am interested in other aspects of communication that have nothing at all to do with autism. No matter the topic, as long as autism is involved someone will hate the research(er). Yes, people are passionate about other topics, but the "rhetoric of theater" or "rhetoric of fiction" isn't going to lead to quite the same animosity. (However, I do admit that writing about "philosophy and fiction" leads to some pretty nasty emails.)

But, the more I read about "autistics and writing" and "autistics and school" that doesn't have anything to do with my experiences or those of other autistics with academic skills, the more I must admit that we need autistic scholars to express their experiences, theories, and to conduct scholarly research.

I'm not about to stop pursuing my creative writing, computer programming, or many other interests — but to not advocate for change in our educational practices and systems would be selfish. Not that the research isn't also self-serving for my career as a professor. However, I do feel a duty to push for change when I meet other people who have struggled within the system. We are wasting talent because our educational system is unwilling to accept difference.

Frustrated — and motivated to push for change — I am going to resume searching for a publisher for several academic texts this summer. The topics: academic writing and autistic students; autism and self-perception in writing; and I have a list of other ideas. We really need quality scholarship by autistics and others with cognitive differences in the humanities. We have plenty of "studies" (including disability studies) but not enough about autism and neurodiversity. Autism affects how individuals process information and analyze that information. It also affects our creative processes.

I will return to sending queries to publishers and editors after May (following a big creative project)… and begging publishers to take these topics seriously. I'm tired of reading what "experts" believe, instead of how autistics actually approach creative tasks — especially academic writing, which is the "composition" of new, original works.

There are some collections and books about autism and writing, many theorizing that various writers were "autistic" — which can only be supposition in the case of authors long dead. That's not what I want to write. I want to explore how autistic students — now and in the future — can be nurtured as writers.

Let us hope this is not a Quixotic effort to bring attention to neurodiverse students.


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