About The Speed of Dark

Dec 08

About the Book

The Speed of Dark is a novel about a high-functioning autistic man who–faced with a demand that he accept an experimental treatment to “cure” his autism–struggles to maintain his identity and freedom of choice.   His final decision is character-driven (as the writer, I did not know what he would decide until he did decide and I’m cautiously neutral on that–character, like real people, have choices.)

This book has been used in college classes, as the community-reads-it book in multiple locales, and has generated considerable interest.   Hence the website and blog.

About the Writer

I’m the parent of an adult autistic man who is NOT like the protagonist of the book, except in being a fully human and lovable person who happens to be autistic.    At the time I wrote the book, I chose not to write it about our son, but about a higher-functioning person for whom a “cure” would be even less attractive.    When our son was an infant and toddler, much less was known than is known now about autism and its varied expression.  We did not receive an accurate diagnosis for years.   Services now available in most schools were not then available.  We devised our own therapies, adding in those being developed as we read about them.   I had a background in science and medicine, and could read the professional literature (some of it very silly–old bad theories take a long time to die away.)  The proof of the pudding is a young man who–we were told early on–had a 90+% chance of requiring institutional care.  He is now living in a house near us, on his own, and working part-time bussing tables in a fast-food place: happy, productive, friendly.  Right now he’s rebuilding the privacy fence at the house where he lives (with some help from his dad, but mostly his work.)   Still impaired, but less so every year.

I’ve been on multiple internet communities dealing with parenting disabled kids and autism over the years–I remember how scary it was when our son was little, how it seemed sometimes that nothing we tried worked.   Tags in shirts–food aversions–perseverations–meltdowns–and much more–been there, survived that, wore the T-shirts out long ago.

I hope to write another book, nonfiction, with ideas for parents–not “my way to save your child” but an approach to parenting that allows parents to use their own creativity in shaping their child’s future.