It wasn’t until I was an adult that I could finally understand that from the time of my diagnosis, my education was not going to be “complete,” because I did not have the full access I needed. It was as if intensive speech therapy and itinerant teachers were more important than having a sign language interpreter in my classes.
When I received my diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome seven years ago, I thought of all the young people today who face the social challenges and bullying that I faced decades earlier. I wanted to create a character like me, but one who fights back against the way others treat her in a way that I never did.
After second grade, I stopped reading most books unless they were assigned for class. Even then, I often didn’t read them. The reason being, when I read a sentence, I often didn’t understand it. Somewhere between my eyes seeing the words and my brain, the phrase disappeared into the ether.
All too often, portrayals of disability in literature mirror the common assumption that disability signifies helplessness.