Black and White: A Colorful Look at the Spectrum
by S.R. Salas
Black and White is a memoir about life, love and understanding from an autistic perspective. It’s about growing up on a spectrum I wasn’t aware of until the diagnosis of my son 5 years ago. Black and White is my take on marriage, parenting, friendship and how very differently I view these relationships. It reaches back into my childhood and the difficulties I encountered as an undiagnosed child trying to figure out the world around me – school, friendships, social interaction – without support. And how my past experiences, a late-in-life diagnosis and a better understanding of my neurology aids me greatly in raising my two oldest kids, who are also autistic and my youngest who is not. Black and White is a story about autistic lives, not the disorder itself. And it’s told in a very positive light and most definitely with a sense of humor!
How It All Came About:
It was kind of funny how Black & White came about. I had actually just completed a fictional work, which hides unread in my closet, when J said to me: “Why don’t you write a book about autism?” I thought that was an odd thing to say. You see, being autistic doesn’t seem odd or abnormal to me – being autistic with all the characteristics, traits, etc… is the ‘norm’ in our house (we outnumber the NTs 3:2). It’s everyday life, so what exactly am I supposed to be telling everyone? What story am I supposed to be sharing? This is the part where J just stared at me until the ‘point’ hit home. Oh, right…
It has come to my attention that most people don’t think quite like me. Got it!
So I Took What He Said To Heart. It made me think back on the countless times I have provided information to people and had them reply that they had never thought of things that way. Or the unsettling, yet eye-opening experience of a Mom, tears in her eyes, realizing for the first time that her child is not shunning her touch but touch in general. I’ve even had professionals in differing fields share that after speaking/working with me, they changed the way they approached therapies, not only with autistic people, but with clients with a variety of disabilities.
And honestly, I was exhausted of hearing how exhausting we (autistic people) are. I wanted to put out a very positive, autistic viewpoint. And I wanted people, especially those of the very young and newly diagnosed, to understand that we do grow up and we do mature. That we are valuable members of society with thoughts and feelings, wants and needs – just like everyone else!