A rash of suicides spawned from bullying in 2007-2009 sparked the thoughts that eventually led to me writing Juniper Crescent and Hallow Terrace.
These days it’s hard to not find news about where the newest target is set: the neurodiversity community. The biggest voice against them being Autism Speaks. Simply put, they’re treating the neurological equivalent of a different operating system like a disease that can be done away with through medication and special diets and so forth. I know too many wonderful autistic people to believe that this kind of mental eugenics is the answer.
When I’m looking at the arguments on both sides, I see a lot of parallels between the challenges Oksanya and the other Isis faced and the Autistic community.
Among autistics, there’s the same thing. Take for example, a couple sharing a meal at a restaurant. The woman is autistic and can’t stand to see the two different foods touching each other so separates them. Onlookers saw this and commented that the guy was controlling and abusive (this is a true story. Separating foods is a fairly common trait for autistics).
Some of the Isis in Juniper Crescent and Hallow Terrace couldn’t function in the standard house with the standard feel. Hailey Burns, an Isis who had been mixed with an American Kestrel, has a wingspan that makes most housing difficult to maneuver. Some say cut the wings, but so many more said find a house that fits.
Textures are often a consideration for autistic people. The shirt they found on sale may be perfect in every way and fit just right, but if it’s the wrong fabric there’s no way they’re going to buy it. Again, some say go gluten-free and they’ll be cured. Others, myself among them, say it’s not a big deal, just don’t get that shirt and learn to sew or crochet or whatever will be a good texture.
Oksanya didn’t know what being an Isis meant or everything that would come with it. The spots were fairly predictable, but hunting instinct, the ability to purr, the change in eye color couldn’t have been known before hand.
The autism spectrum has a wide range of particulars. Some are overloaded by certain sounds, others can’t speak with their voice/mouth when they’re too stressed, and some need to be on a quest to gain all knowledge of a special interest, be it unicorns or lamp posts.
While the Isis operation will likely always be a work of fantasy and fiction, there are going to be the bullies in real life. The hard part is when they believe they are doing a kindness for those they hurt.
I’m going to be on the side that says creativity and imagination will flourish in a neuro-diverse setting. We’ll always need more creativity and imagination.
I close with the words of Nikola Tesla, one of the top ten alleged autistics.
Every living being is an engine geared to the wheelwork of the universe. Though seemingly affected only by its immediate surrounding, the sphere of external influence extends to infinite distance.