Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Authors For Autism (& a few links)

Ever dreamed about getting it on with Lee Child's Reacher in fiction? Or finding yourself in a James Sallis novel? These authors - and many others - are auctioning off the chance to be a character in their works for a great cause. The authors for autism research auction starts March 23 and closes April 2.

Did you know...

- There is no single known cause for autism.
- Autism rates are increasing.
- 1 in every 150 American children falls on the autistic spectrum.
- Divided by gender, that's 1 in every 94 American boys.
- The lifetime costs of caring for someone with autism ranges from $3.5 million to $5 million.

As someone who has worked with autistic children, I urge those in a position to do so to consider participating in this charity auction. Every dollar counts, and you never know the difference it can make in the lives of children across the country and around the world.

And since I'm shaking off vacation brain for autism (with absolutely no complaints, as this is a most worthy cause to support, even if all you do is spread the word) I'll toss up a few interesting links.

Canada's growth economy: crime

Think of drugs, and you think of Colombia, Thailand, Afghanistan. But Canada? Nice, peaceful, dull Canada? Believe it or not, there are parts of the country where cannabis provides more jobs than logging, mining, oil and gas combined. Misha Glenny investigates, in the first of two extracts from his new book on organised crime.

(Fascinating stuff, and my thanks to John McFetridge for the link.)

Yeah, yeah, violence... again

I haven't been able to get Crimerant's blog to take my comments, and from those who've e-mailed me I sense it's a bigger system problem, but my thanks to Gregg and Matt for throwing some questions out to their readers - notably, about violence in true crime vs fiction. The answers are interesting, as are the e-mails I've received thus far. My thanks to all who've chimed in.

Reviews that fall under the "entertaining as hell" category to read

(But not if you're the author of the works in question.)

Jeff Vandermeer has a few things to say about The First Patient. Uh, it would probably be best not to drink anything before reading.

And keeping in the don't drink - or eat - before reading category, follow the link, then click on Revelation by CJ Sansom on the left for Damien Seaman's take.

I'll admit it: I'd never want to read such reviews of my books. But strictly putting the reader hat on, Jeff's short take and Damien's assessment were both entertaining... a nice quality in a review.


Alex Plank said...

I have autism and want to point out that Autism Speaks has been widely denounced by members of the autistic community for running negative media campaigns that demean autistic individuals and contributing towards a negative culture that causes harm to autistic people and their families.

In addition, the research they fund largely does not go towards improving the quality of life for autistics. Most of Autism Speaks research is conducted with the goal of prenatal genetic screening which would only prevent more of us from existing. It doesn't help anyone who actually has Autism.

While awareness of Autism is usually a good thing, organizations like Autism Speaks are doing a great disservice to the public image of the actualities of living with Autism. Autism is not a death sentence and many autistics live happy lives. A lot of them are doing so well that you probably wouldn't even know they're autistic.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Hi Alex,

Thank you for dropping by and sharing your perspective. I received the link via e-mail, with a request to support the auction because of the participation of crime fiction authors. I am unaware of the controversy surrounding Autism Speaks. I know autism isn't a death sentence, and I understand that there are many people with autism - like yourself - who lead fulfilling lives.

I'm afraid I haven't made a habit of assessing charities and their relative worth when supporting their efforts for such causes. Research for autism is still critical. While many lead full lives, many others do not. A friend of mine has a child with autism who is non-verbal, is aggressive and often causes physical harm to herself, as well as others. She requires 24-hour care. Any parent who has a child with those needs understands how important it is for there to be research in the hopes that someday, everyone with autism can lead a full life.

I hope you understand why I still feel this is worth supporting.


Pepper Smith said...

Gasp, gasp. Trying to breathe after reading that last review. Don't you just love historical anachronisms?

Barbara said...

I'm glad Alex commented, because my response was very much the same. The increase ("epidemic") can be attributed to people being diagnosed differently. (If you chart "retardation" it declines exactly as autism rises, because people were labeled wrongly.) And a lot of people don't want to be cured, they want to be respected for who they are and not put into stressful positions because others don't accept them.

I know a lot of people want to help - that's great! - and a lot of people feel quite desperate about their children when they aren't doing well and they want them to be happy. But Autism Speaks doesn't speak for a lot of autistics.

There are some great blogs out there by talented writers who happen to be autistic. To avoid turning this comment into a blogroll, I'll just point to a recent post I made that links to three of them, and the first blog linked has a good and thorough blogroll.

I can't remember the order of things - whether I started reading these blogs because I had an autistic character in my next book, or if I was reading the blogs first, and the character came after, but the ones I follow are really good, with Ballastexistenz one that I check daily.