Sharing: Thoughts on To Siri With Love

From John Robison:

I just finished a controversial new book, To Siri With Love by Judith Newman. Reading this book made me feel like memoirs from autism moms are a thing whose time has come and gone . . .

At the same time, I can’t help but believe the publisher who brought this story to market, and the reviewers who praised it, must not share that opinion.  And of course the author does not seem to hold that opinion either.  I’ve no doubt she loves her autistic son and wants the best for him.

So why do I find this book troubling, even as the non-autistic literary community has lavished praise upon it?  And lest you think it’s just me that is troubled . . . the reason I read the book was the storm of tweets and messages I received from autistic people urging me to boycott or criticize it.

Perhaps this is an autistic thing. Maybe it’s a situation where non-autistics find a story about one of our tribe interesting or entertaining, even as we autistics find the same words deeply troubling.

Without giving it all away, I’d say the author’s attitudes toward her son, her family, and autism appear to be at odds with the set of values and ideals that is taking shape among autistic self advocates today.  It would be a great understatement to say the author’s views would be aggressively challenged by, for example, the neurodiversity students at a university like my own William & Mary.

As expressed in the book, the author’s ideas triggered many autistic readers (including yours truly) to such an extent that the book’s other messages were missed. For example, the premise of the title – that a young autistic fellow could find a friend in Apple’s Siri seems largely lost.  Little is made of the relationship between Gus – the autistic star of the book – and Siri other than to dismiss it for shallowness and nonhuman nature.

This is a very well-considered response to what many autistic folks feel is a boycott-worthy piece of reading. You can read the full piece here.

One thought on “Sharing: Thoughts on To Siri With Love

  1. Pingback: Fixing #ToSiriWithLove – Aspie Under Your Radar

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