It feels like we are in the second generation of autistic discourse. The first generation was marked by medical intervention, and by the elimination of the autistic voice. The diagnosis was considered the beginning of finding a solution, or a cure. It was the policing of bodies, the refusing of awkwardness, the speech therapy to end stuttering, the constant supervision, the endless correcting. These strategies often used (and still use) violence of the body to control and mainstream what are viewed as failures of the language. This ranges from the relatively mild--the holding that is required of Autism Behaviour Control, to the much harsher--the infamous use of electric shock. What these strategies have in common an obsession with “adapting the maladaptive” There were proto histories--Bettelheim's idea that the absent mother, or the uncaring mother caused autism. But the assumption was that the autistic voice was a flawed one, and one that had to be processed out of children--as early as possible.
The second generation has a radical edge. It refuses to see where they are as a problem of adaptation, and to seek a cure. There is nothing wrong with the autistic voice, and that voice has advantages--advantages that should be preserved. This is not to suggest that there is a utilitarian need for those on the spectrum either. This is not an argument of preservation via use. The main thrust of the book is to elucidate the differences between neuroqueer and baseline uses of langauge--what marks the difference between these two factions, is the radical reinvention of language that those who are autistic construct.
The collection of essays will be about how autistics use language, and how that usage can provide a set of methodological interventions, patterns of resistance, and also refusal. In this anthology, mostly featuring autistic people writing on autistic subjects, will be one of the first work to discuss the pragmatics of autistic language, but also to deconstruct what those pragmatics mean both within autistic cultures. Part of this is new forms that are emerging--that refuse the linearity of neo-liberal prescriptivism--ones that encourage the list, the jarring transition, the info dump, the non-verbal, the stutter, and the stim. It is also how those forms can be used outside of an autistic context--how the list can become a liturgy, how the jarring transition haunts the jump cut of modernism, how the infodump is one way through the problem of taxonomy and archive, how the non-verbal resembles the lacunae or the gap so beloved by Deleuze or Derrida, or how the stutter or the stim is a writing on the body.
These gaps, and hauntings, the connections between autistic speech and the speech of theory, is one way of constructing these narratives. But, the multiphasic, and the personnel are key as well. Autism for autism’s sake is key here. The book will then, be primarily, one that discusses linguistic codes/language games that mark autistic people--words that they use to describe their own experiences.