Thursday, April 3, 2014

Autistic Writer and Activist Puts Representation Ahead of Awareness, Acceptance

The right thing to do during a month designated for autism is to support talented neurodivergent authors, artists, and people who create change by producing works that transform attitudes and perceptions about autism. Outstanding author and activist Michael Scott Monje, Jr. has just launched a funding campaign for his newest project, Imaginary Friends, a web serial. I'll let him tell you about it! Remember to  click on the link below the video for information on perks for donations.

I've posted the press release verbatim with attribution because during the discussion the author states why he places representation ahead of awareness and acceptance. We throw these words around and don't really consider that attitudinal change is only achieved in a society through valid representation. The whole purpose of Amplify Autistics to let the voice of the neurodivergent change maker speak without filtering directly to the world. So without any more commentary here is Michael Scott Monje, Jr. :

"Autistic Writer and Activist Puts Representation Ahead of Awareness, Acceptance


 PRLog (Press Release) - Apr. 1, 2014 - KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Local writer and disability activist Michael Scott Monje, Jr. has announced a funding campaign for Imaginary Friends, a web serial that is to be distributed freely as it is written this summer.

The new series will feature Clay Dillon, the protagonist from Michael's first novel, Nothing is Right, and it will focus on the relationship between Clay and his mother as she attempts to push him through catechism in an attempt to make sure that he receives his first Holy Communion “on time.”

“I'm writing about a lot of the things I experienced as a kid,” Michael said when asked about his recurring character. “I wasn't diagnosed as autistic until my adulthood. So that part of Clay's character is about me. And I was raised Catholic.”

“It's not all about me, though. Clay is a parable about the problems people in our community have when they try to participate in the everyday institutions of our society. Church, school, the workplace... the stories about him are not just about me. They're about the way the world looks to people like me. I do my best to be widely representative.”

The launch of Michael's project this week coincides with Autism Awareness month, which is sponsored by large organizations like Autism Speaks. The event has become controversial in recent years, with autistic activists campaigning for Autism Acceptance month and calling attention to Autism Speaks' lack of autistic representation in its leadership. Recently, this has been highlighted by the resignation of its sole autistic spokesperson.

“Awareness isn't enough,” according to Michael. “Neither is acceptance. We need representation. We need to be the heart of stories, not just the quirky friend, the family's problem child, or some parent's burden. We're not all super detectives. Some of us are just trying to build relationships and keep our families together, and doing it in a world that seems like it was built to frustrate our brains is challenging.”

More information about funding the campaign can be accessed through Michael's blog, Shaping Clay, at The blog also contains his last book about Clay Dillon, Defiant, which dealt with workplace and healthcare access issues, as well as poetry and essays about neurodiversity.

Michael Scott Monje, Jr."

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