Introducing: “The Autism Sense Project”

New name, new aim!

I’ve recently decided that I want to work towards creating two books about autism, rather than just one. The single book I have been working on for the past year and a bit has become unmanageably large, meaning that a) it will be some time before it’s in any state to be released to the world, and b) no publisher is going to get on board with it anyway (although I may well decide to self-publish).

I also came to realise that what I’m trying to do actually splits quite well into two book projects, as I explain below.

The first part of my project was – and still is – to contribute to a better understanding of autism (in terms of the scientific theories we have). The second part, meanwhile, was/still is focused on autism understanding (or rather, misunderstanding), looking at how autism/autistics are situated (both discursively and materially) in society, and the ways in which we may resist these placements. Check out the first ever post in this blog for more details on these two aspects. Rather than trying to combine these two rather large and lofty aims under one banner, I am going to split the content into two, as follows:

The first book has a working title, “Making Sense of Autism”. There are two meanings to this title. The first is the obvious one and has to do with working towards a better understanding of autism (i.e. what makes sense about autism). The second is a more hidden meaning, but one that is core to the book and central to how I think this understanding can and needs to be reached, namely through focusing on the sensory perceptual aspect of autism. In other words, the key message of the book is that understanding “sensory” is key to understanding autism in general.

The second book is focused on the autism (mis)understanding side of things. I’m less sure about the title for this one, but was thinking something along the lines of “Autstanding” (again, see the first post in this blog for more on this name). Obviously, this is a merging of autism and understanding, something which needs to be achieved within society. But “aut” comes from the Greek “autos” meaning self, and so “Autstanding” can also be read as self-understanding. So, again, we have two potential meanings, one referring to understanding at the societal level, the other at the individual level. And this is precisely what the book seeks to encompass. It is going to look at issues of (mis)understanding, acceptance and ableism at the micro-scale (among autistics themselves, as well as nonautistics), as well as at the macro-scale, and at the ways the two intersect and reinforce one another. “Austanding” is on the short side and probably requires clarification in the form of a subtitle. Again, I’m not sure about this at the moment, but my first idea was something along the lines of “Autism understanding in an Allistic world” or “Autistic selves in Allistic society” – but these can be improved on with a bit more thought.

Finally, I need a new name for this blog – and for my online platform more generally. I’ve come up with “Autism Sense”. I think it’s fairly catchy and rolls off the tongue quite nicely. It encompasses the double meaning (“what makes sense about autism” or “what is sensible with regards to autism”, whilst hopefully getting across that the sensory domain is very important in autism). The double meaning is clear to me, and hopefully it will be to others as well*. I’ve also decided to throw in “the” and “project”, making it “The Autism Sense Project” (to try to encompass the fact it’s an umbrella for multiple things – 2 books, a blog, YouTube videos, artwork), but I’ll probably use the shorter “Autism Sense” as well.

I’d really appreciate any feedback anybody might have on this name (or anything else I’ve written). I can have a tendency to over-think these things and perhaps trying to be too clever with names so that the meaning I want to get across ends up not being so apparent to outsiders. Anyway, for now at least, here’s to “The Autism Sense Project”. Wish me luck!

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