Introducing: Unbound Books
We are so excited about Unbound Books! This is a brand new autism acceptance library serving the community of Modesto, CA. Their mission, from their Facebook page:
“At Unbound Books Autism Acceptance Library, we believe in a world where Autistics control the discourse on all autism related topics, one where their voices are not only heard and respected, but sought out. A world where Autistic people are recognized as the ONLY experts on Autistic people and the issues that affect their lives.
We want the next generation of Autistics to grow up in a world where they will not be bullied, abused, or murdered by the people who were supposed to protect them. To be free from ableist “interventions” that promise to make them “indistinguishable from peers,” and often come with a side of PTSD.
Instead, we envision a world where Autistic people are not only accepted, but embraced as valuable members of society.
Our mission is to help create that world by challenging the way people think about autism. But we cannot do it alone. We can amplify Autistic voices, but you have to be willing to listen. We hope you will join us.“
We asked the founder, Lana Thomas to answer a few questions to introduce the PACLA community to this amazing new project that is going to help change the conversation about autism in their community!
1. Can you introduce and tell us a little about yourself?
I am 41 years old. I’m allistic and neurodivergent. I have epilepsy. I’m married to a neurotypical man and together we have a twice-exceptional (Autistic + gifted) daughter. I live in a community that is deeply entrenched in the pathology paradigm, so I am trying to change that.
2. How are you connected to autism and the neurodiversity movement?
Unfortunately, the neurodiversity movement is literally non-existent in my area as far as I can tell. I actually had never heard the term “neurodiversity” before my daughter was identified as autistic. I was Googling things like “anti-ABA” and “Autistic bloggers,” when I stumbled onto it. I just made it my mission to learn about autism from Autistic people, so I started following blogs by Autistic activists, joined Autistic moderated online communities, followed Autistic led organizations, and watched videos of speeches given by Autistic advocates. There’s so much information out there, but you have to sift through so much misinformation to get to it. So that’s pretty much the purpose of my library. People can find all of this information in one place without the sifting.
3. What thing or things motivated you to start a library in your community?
Well, once I started following the work of Autistic activists, and the neurodiversity movement, I would try to explain to people that the things Autistic people advocate for and support are in direct opposition to the things parents and professionals advocate for and support- even down to the definition of autism! I would bring this up and people would act as though I was some kind of radical for actually valuing what Autistics have to say about their own lives. I became frustrated at how quick allistic people are to dismiss Autistic people, so I started to think about how I could get people to listen to Autistic people. I thought about donating books to the local library, but that still left the problem of people having to sift through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff.
It was right around that time that one of the pages I follow on Facebook posted a link to the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Library, and it hit me- that’s exactly what we need here! At the time, it didn’t occur to me to start my own. I just thought,”That’s brilliant! Too bad it’s all the way in WA though.” So one day I commented on a Facebook post about the library that I wish there were something like that in CA. Lei actually replied to my comment & told me to e-mail her and she would tell me how she got her library started. We’ve been e-mailing each other back and forth ever since and she has been enormously helpful and supportive through this whole process. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I quite literally could not have done this without her help.
4. What goals do you have for your library?
Right now the most pressing goal is just raising money for inventory and start up costs. Once I have the graphic art done I’ll start working on the website which will have a book list, calendar of events, and links to important resources. Eventually I would like to sell merchandise to support the library. I would love to get to the point where we can have some kind of event happening every month whether that’s hiring Autistic, Neurodivergent & Disabled activists to speak on important topics, hosting events for days of cultural significance, and even organizing protests.The idea is to make Autistic, Neurodivergent, and Disabled culture so visible that it’s impossible to ignore. A force to be reckoned with.
The long term goal, of course, is liberating the masses from the damaging misconceptions of the prevailing “cure culture” and the harm and oppression caused by it.
My ultimate dream would be for Unbound Books Autism Acceptance Library to become a huge national non-profit with a majority Autistic, 100% neurodivergent board of directors that would offer jobs with great pay and benefits to Autistic, neurodivergent, and other disabled people to run libraries across the country either on site or through mail from their homes. They would be able to create their own schedules. We would also hire Autistic mentors for Autistic children and have Autistic led workshops for parents, professionals, educators, police, etc. I love the idea of creating jobs by promoting acceptance and educating people about neurodiversity.
5. How can people support this project?
You can visit our Facebook page and click on the Donate Now button which will take you directly to our You Caring fundraiser page. You can also help by “liking” and sharing our Facebook page.
(You can also find the fundraiser here!)
6. How will you run the library?
We are still in the start-up phase right now (building inventory, tending to administrative requirements for starting a business, etc.) but we have a few locations we’re looking into and we will post site info, dates & hours on our Facebook page as soon as we have a location secured and a big enough inventory to be able to start (we currently only have one book.)
7. What has the response been from your community and others?
I haven’t quite gone public about it until now, but I did mention it to some local teachers in my area and they actually seemed pretty excited about it. The support from the Autistic community has been amazing. I was kind of nervous about undertaking a project like this as an allistic, but so far it seems like people get what I’m trying to do and that I’m not trying to speak for or over anyone. And honestly, if I didn’t have the support of the Autistic community I wouldn’t do this at all, because if the community you’re trying to serve doesn’t agree with what you’re doing, then you are not really serving them.
8. Is there anything else you’d like us to know or want to share?
I just want to thank everyone at PACLA for your support and for giving me this opportunity to talk about my library. And I want to thank Lei especially for her patience and support in this process. And I want to thank all the amazing activists who have taught me so much and who continue to teach me everyday.
Thank you Lana, for making a difference in your community and for working to make a better future for Autistic people!
Image description: Two flappy red and orange people figures made of geometric forms, each standing atop a two-tone green and blue mountain shape, with a blue sky background. Text reads: Change the world. Not your Autistic child.
Posted on March 7, 2016, in Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.