A review by huichola
We're Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation, by Eric Garcia

informative slow-paced


We're Not Broken is a good place to start educating yourself about autism — I found that it could be very helpful for neurotypical folks as well as autistic. Much of what was shared in the book felt reaffirming and at times even educational to me as a late diagnosed autie. I really appreciated the way the author centered the truth in how race, gender, and socioeconomic status impact diagnosis and lived experience of autistic peoples.

"There is this conception that Autistic people are permanently children and angelic, but that is largely because the common archetype of an Autistic person is a white person. The perpetual child image is the result of the fact that most Autistic people featured in media are white. America largely assumes innocence and excuses fault for many white people, and often in the case of Autistic people, society chalks up their mistakes to their disability. Autistic people of color, be it Black or brown, aren't given that luxury. We aren't given the benefit of the doubt, and our odd behaviors — the way we rock, the way we avoid eye contact, the way we stim to calm ourselves down when around police — become cause for suspicion. All of this stems from the perception that Autism is a white condition. A racialized Autism means that Black and brown people on the spectrum are overlooked by clinicians while their behavior is perceived as dangerous by the police and the broader public."

"Autistic people often don't pay attention to the same set of societal norms as everyone else. And with that freedom comes a vision. We can see a lot of the social rules around gender are bullshit. And the research supports the idea that a large swath of gender queer people are also Autistic. In 2014, a survey showed that gender variance was 7.59 times more common in participants with ASD than in a large comparison group."

"Autistic women whose neurotypes are ignored can face harsh consequences. Just like other people who aren't recognized for who they truly are. One 2016 study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders surveyed 14 women who diagnosed with Autism later in life and found that almost all experienced one or more mental health difficulty with anxiety, depression, eating disorder being the most commonly reported. Many of the women were dismissed by professionals when they expressed that they thought they might be Autistic."

"'It's interesting to see how, because I grew up undiagnosed, I was forced to accomodate everyone else and change my personality to fit in, whereas you see a lot of white men who are diagnosed very young and then are given all sorts of excuses for bad behavior.' Ray said she got used to being uncomfortable and because she didn't know she was Autistic, assumed everyone else was too. 'When I realized I was Autistic, I was like oh! you guys aren't in constant pain? you guys don't say yes, even though you want to say no?' Ray said that her diagnosis enabled her to set boundaries, which Autistic people are rarely taught about."

"The schema of the Autistic male is quirky and awkward. But women aren't given the same liberty to be gauche. If I miss a social cue, it's like I'm falling down on the job of being an emotional caregiver that society expects of most women."