Writer Eric Garcia has graced various publications such as The Washington Post, The Hill, Roll Call, National Journal and MarketWatch. Now, he is entering the world of literary journalism with We’re Not Broken; Changing the Autism Conversation.
“This book seeks to counteract the misinformation out there about autism to show what reforms are needed to improve the quality of life for autistic people in this country,” Garcia wrote in the introduction of the book.
Changing the perspective
Society’s response to the most pressing problems continues to be deeply influenced by the press. So, the portrayal of any particular subject can be as harmful as helpful to the public.
For years, autism and autistic people have been misrepresented — whether it was intentional or not — in the media. Therefore, vilifying the intrinsic realities of autistic people.
Considering that the CDC has estimated that about 1 in 54 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we all must become more familiar with how to speak about autism.
Thankfully, Eric Garcia is ready to enlighten everyone on how to perceive autism with more accuracy.
“The lack of autistic people’s input means that even the experts who moved forward conversations in one regard can perpetuate stigmatizing ideas about autism in another,” Garcia told BELatina News in a recent interview.
Understanding the origins of autism
“It’s important to remember early research about autism,” Garcia informed us during our conversation. “Asperger’s Syndrome was first described in Vienna, and all the information was in German whereas Leo Kanner in the United States documented everything in English.”
While things have changed since then, so much work still needs to be done. People need to be willing to absorb all the knowledge from those who have done their due diligence and realize that the experiences of autistic people are as valid as the next person’s.
And Garcia makes sure to underline the significance of obtaining the proper education in his book.
Through each page of his book, he takes the reader on a path that touches on the most vital aspects of autism. Garcia speaks on the language used to report on autistic people all the way to the prevalence of gender in the autism world.
The dangerous and fallacious vaccination myth, which states that certain vaccinations will cause autism, is also covered.
The book, for instance, also mentions how a successful autistic person, like Garcia, shouldn’t be deemed as someone who has “overcome” autism.
Identity should never be a feat to beat. Rather, as Garcia states in his book, “autism is an integral part of my identity, and as such, it has played a role in my success.”
We’re Not Broken; Changing the Autism Conversation features the voices of many people in order to play into the authenticity, lending itself to advocate for a community that has been boxed in for ages and was minimally regarded.
Garcia told us that people often see autism through a Eurocentric lens.
In a way, these identities are Othered to fit ideologies force-fed by the hands of colonialism. This has made people make incorrect assumptions about what it means to be autistic in a world that isn’t as welcoming as we’d like it to be.
Moreover, neurotypical people who live with autism must face other complexities of their identity, including their ethnicity.
Autism in the Latinx community
The lack of access to information due to language barriers, among other things, has oftentimes complicated essential guidance on how to support an autistic person.
“A lot of times, they just don’t understand it,” he said. “They just have the right information, or they don’t have a lot of the right information.”
So, unfortunately, misconceptions take place.
“We have a very Eurocentric understanding of who could be autistic.”
“But I think that it’s important to recognize that Latinos can be autistic and, more importantly, the cultural attitudes around autism, around Latinos and autistic traits might be very different.”
Misinformation can be combated, though. Listening to those who truly hold the knowledge will help the press, people, and the world overall make better decisions on how to speak about someone living with autism.
“I think a lot of it requires change, but not necessarily changing, but giving the Latino community Information about it — a lot of people just don’t know about it.”
Even though Garcia is not the first to write a book such as these, his intricate composition on We’re Not Broken; Changing the Autism Conversation invites the reader to immerse themselves in a space that dismantles the misinformation around autism with unadulterated truths — all from a unique point of view.
When we asked Garcia if he had any closing notes for the BELatina audience, he left us with the following:
“We should recognize what it’s like to live in a world that wasn’t built for us,” he said.
“In the same way, we should recognize the ways in which our community is inequitable to autistic people and find ways to make our culture welcoming and accepting of all autistic people.”