the curious incident of the vote at the book club

Best autism story ever, from Authoring Autism.  Melanie Yergeau is hilarious:

It’s an event I like to call the Curious Incident of the Vote at the Book Club. There are fifteen of us huddled around a burly Barnes and Noble table, eleven autistic, four non. The lights are very loud, the autie voices and the coffee machines even louder. Several months previously, my disability services counselor had referred me to the book club, suggesting I use it as a space to “practice.” She held the space in high esteem–one that would allow me to socially faux pas, ad infinitum. And so I sit there, practicing how to practice. As we fifteen vote on our next book, I wring my hands, silent but focused, and after much banter, we’ve narrowed our choices down to two possibilities: Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 or Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the latter being the autism novel du jour, complete with a teenage savant who hates yellow cars, melts down in London, and recites prime numbers.

Before the final vote, three autistic members voice their vehement objections to reading Curious Incident. They maintain that it’s the most simplistic, vile, ridiculous book they’ve ever come across. We vote, and Curious Incident wins–only because two autistics have abstained from voting, and all four of the nonautistic moderators have cast their votes for Curious Incident.

And so, with the exception of those who call themselves neurologically typical, we all practice melting down in public. One person totally flips out in authentic autistic fashion, screaming and jumping and flailing and throwing hardcover books. Another covers her ears and hunkers down. Two others start yelling. Two leave the table. One looks bewildered. My hard drive shuts down, then crashes, and I mentally leave planet earth, effectively mute and literally senseless, just one more autistic person participating in an autistic chorus. At that moment, as the meltdowns garner what I can only presume are the tsk-tsk looks of blue-haired ladies, I wonder what I am practicing.

As I attend the meetings in the weeks that follow, it becomes clear what the book club moderators expect me, expect us, to practice: audience awareness. Christopher, the novel’s teenage and autistic protagonist, doesn’t seem to have any–like his pretty little rhetorical triangle got a side bit off. And more than this, the moderators expect us to see ourselves as little Christophers. They ask us questions like, “You know that time when Christopher wishes everyone on earth were dead but him so that he can pursue his autistic interest and not be bullied–do you all wish the same thing?” To which our most vocal member responds, “Fuck Christopher. Fuck you!”

He is practicing something that I wish desperately to practice.

How the story will be understood by people who suck:

In such constructions, autistic fuck yous do not indicate community resistance, or even understandable individual responses to systemic prejudices about neurological disability. Rather, fuck you is an autistic symptom, not a rhetorical practice. Fuck you is emotional dysregulation. It is a meltdown. It is affective disturbance. It is lack of awareness about context, audience, environment. It is disruption. It is aggressive stereotypy, or echolalic hostility. Whatever fuck you is, it requires mediation.

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