book review: Autisme is niet blauw smurfen wel by Peter Vermeulen

I saw this book passing by on an autistic friends Facebook page and i almost instantly wanted to read it. It intrigued me. It has a quirky title which translates to english as “autism isn’t blue smurfs are”. It adresses the origins of the connection between the color blue and autism (autism speaks!!!)

Peter Vermeulen is a pedagogue whom, apparantly, works for a flemish autism organisation and has, apparantly, given talks in the whole world. Before reading his book, i never heard of him. He never has heard of me either, so we are equal on that part.

we are equal in the sense that we both have 30 years experience with autism. He has seen many more cases than I do. I have only see 5-6 up close and a few dozen in documentaries, so he has me there, but where I have him is him beaten, is that I have experienced autism for 30 years now. I live with it day in and day out, so if we calculate the hours , not years we both have experience with autism, i think i have him beaten after only my first decennia being on this earth.

The book is not bad. It gives a view of how people who work with people with autism think. That’s not bad. I agree with him on a few points in the book, like that autism is to popular and that it’s a catch-all diagnosisnd stuff like that.

i’m going to re-read the book, I know that now, as I’m going to think more about the things that troubled me. For one thing, he made me doubt my diagnosis. According to him, It’s wrong to identify with my autism. So with the same logic, people whom are blind, can’t identify with being blind. They can’t call themselves blind.

what also bothered me is that he talked as if he knew what he was talking about, as if he was autistic himself. I didn’t like his pedantic tone. He wasn’t another famous Belgian, Jozef de veuster aka father damian, whom gave a famous speech starting with the words: We, lepers,…” after he discovered that after working with lepers, he also had caught lepracy.

We, the autistic community, don’t need anyone talking for us. In the history of autism, we have been talked about and people have made assumptions about us enough, even blaming a generation of women for something they didn’t do.

He talks in his book that people like him, whom have worked with autistics are equally qualitied to talk for them. Uhm… No. I will accept the words of fellow autistics like Temple Grandin. I will take the words by researchers, like Tony Attwood. But I will never take the words from someone whom has seen cases, has tried to help help them, has written books about it, but has only piggybacked off of other people, and still claims he is as valuable as other people with more knowledge.

he gave me a good view on how certain organisations think about autism, and it will help me in the future, but it doesn’t add anything important to autism literature.

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